Clash of styles as Kochi set for a cracking opener

October 7, 2017

Clash of styles as Kochi set for a cracking opener


KOCHI: It is said that the best should be kept till the end but for football crazy fans of Kochi the best recipe for U-17 World Cup has been served as a starter. Brazil take on Spain in a highly anticipated group fixture at the Jawaharlal Nehru International Stadium here on Saturday evening in a game which could be worthy of a final. It will be a clash of styles between emerging talents of two powerhouses in world football as the junior talents from both Brazil and Spain play a game which is reminiscent of their senior squads. The little Canaries will adopt an offensive approach with quick touches while the Spanish side will follow the renowned ‘tiki-taka’, with prime focus on ball possession.

The winner of the game will definitely have an edge in Group D and both teams will be keen for a winning start to the tournament. “This is the most difficult group in the tournament and it is very important for us to win the first match. Winning all three points on Saturday is crucial for us especially because Brazil are the clear favourites to win the title,” said a confident Spanish coach Santiago Denia.

Ever since Brazil landed in Kochi, the talk has been more about the absence of their talismanic striker Vinicius. But the Brazilian coach Carlos Amadeu and his players have tried to stress on the fact that they have plenty of potential in their squad to fill the void. “We have conducted several training sessions and friendlies with and without Vinicius. All the players are used to playing with or without Vinicius. They are used to our system and I have full confidence in them,” Amadeu said, trying to play down the absence of Vinicius.

The coach feels that the team has jelled into a unit and it will reflect in their game in the tournament. “We have been preparing for this season for the past two years and there is a great bonding among the players,” he added.

While Brazil may be missing the services of Vinicius, they will have to deal with the threat posed by teen sensation Abel Ruiz. The Spanish skipper, who has already cemented his place upfront in the Barcelona youth team, is on the radar of premier league clubs like Manchester City, Arsenal and Chelsea. But Brazil captain Vitao, who could be possibly handed the responsibility of marking Ruiz, hinted that his team have plans to check Ruiz. “Our defence starts from our forwards and our offence starts from our defenders. Ruiz is a good player, but we have our own plans,” said Vitao.

Brazil defence looks more settled when compared to Spanish as they are the only side in the U-17 South American Championship to have a clean sheet. On the other hand, Spain conceded seven goals from five matches in the U-17 European Championships on their road to the U-17 FIFA World Cup.

The match has all the makings of an exhilarating contest and now it’s up to the little masters of two footballing powerhouses to live up to its billing.

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