Sunday, 27 October 2019

FIFA U-17 World Cup Brazil 2019: Argentina-Spain showdown tops the bill on Monday

Pablo Aimar poses for a photo session in London

The first round of matches in Group E sees two of the very best come face-to-face, as Argentina take on Spain in Vitoria. South American champions Argentina come into the tournament with a big reputation and, in Pablo Aimar, boast a coach who enjoyed a stellar international playing career of his own. Like their opponents, Spain have never won the FIFA U-17 World Cup™. However, they have finished runners-up on no fewer than four occasions and were beaten finalists at the most recent edition in 2017.

Elsewhere in Group E, the current kings of Africa, Cameroon, will start as favourites against Tajikistan in Vitoria. The Asian side are taking part in the tournament for only the second time, having unexpectedly reached the final of the continental U-16 championship in 2018, where they lost to Japan.

Solomon Islands are appearing at the U-17 World Cup for the very first time in their history. The Oceania U-16 runners-up will kick off their campaign against perennial-contenders Italy, who qualified for Brazil 2019 by reaching the final of the European competition at the same age group, where they lost to the Netherlands. The match will take place in Brasilia.

Also in Brasilia, Paraguay, who finished third in the South American tournament, will take on fellow Latin Americans Mexico. The reigning Concacaf champions have a formidable record at the U-17 World Cup, a tournament that they have already won on two occasions. The Mexicans triumphed in Peru in 2005 and again, as hosts, in 2011.
What you need to know

Some of Argentina’s all-time greats took their first steps as international footballers at the U-17 World Cup. Notable examples include Fernando Redondo (China PR 1985), Juan Sebastian Veron (Italy 1991), Esteban Cambiasso (Ecuador 1995) and Javier Mascherano and Carlos Tevez (Trinidad and Tobago 2001), as well as the man in charge of today’s side, Pablo Aimar, who took part in the 1995 edition.

“We always have to set our sights high. But we’ve got to take it one match at a time and try to pick up the points needed to qualify from our group, and then we can think about the knockout stages.”
Spain coach Juan David Gordo

Players to watch

Fernando Ovelar (midfielder, Paraguay, No.10)

Paraguay’s No10 shot to fame at the tender age of 14, when he scored a goal for Cerro Porteno’s first team against arch rivals Olimpia. Now aged 15, he is already starting to emerge as a key figure for the national team.

Pedri (forward, Spain, No.18)
He may be yet to turn 17, but the Las Palmas player is already being selected for his club side in the Spanish second division. Barcelona recently completed a deal that will see the youngster move to the Catalan giants in 2020.

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