The First ever FIFA competition on Indian soil has been received with great applause over the last 20 days. The FIFA U-17 World Cup 2017 has now reached its business end with the final two matches coming up on Saturday 28 October.
First the beaten semi-finalists, Brazil and Mali will play for earning a third-place finish. The grand finale between England and Spain will be played in the late kickoff. Both the matches are going to be played at the picturesque and iconic Vivekananda Yuva Bharati Krirangan (VYBK) also known as the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata. Here we try and look at the build-up to the final.
History in the competition:
This will be first time ever that the final will be contested by two European teams in its 32 years history.
Spain have been represented 9 times at the global youth event. La Roja have been runners up thrice in 1991, 2003 and 2007 which are jointly their best finish till date.
England first qualified for the event back in 2007. The 3 Lions have since made 4 more appearances till date. Their previous best finishes were quarter finals in 2007 and 2011.
This will be the maiden triumph for either teams should they win.
Road to Final:
Both England and Spain have played some heartwarming football en route to the mega conclusion. Pitted in two very competitive groups, both the teams had to bring out their respective bests to progress further in the competition. While England have had an all-win record in the tournament (they beat Japan on penalties after a 0-0 draw in the pre-quarters), Spain had to bounce back to win all their remaining matches after an opening day 1-2 defeat against Brazil.
English forward line has been the best in the tournament with 18 goals in 6 games while the defence has let in only 4 in as many.
Spain, on the contrary, have scored 3 less than their title rivals, while conceding 1 more.
England’s biggest win came in their opening match when they defeated Chile 4-0 at Kolkata. Spain’s biggest win was also by the same margin when they defeated African débutantes Niger on their second match day at Kochi.
As of yet, there is no news of any injury problems for either team and the brilliant 67000 strong Kolkata crowd can expect the two teams to fight it out in full strength. Although England star Jadon Sancho, who left after the group stages to represent his club Borussia Dortmund, will be a notable exclusion.
Probable Line Ups:
Both the teams have been blessed with a host of talented youngsters who have been instrumental in their respective title challenges.
For England, goalkeeper Curtis Anderson has given coach Steve Cooper immense confidence with his great form under the bar. Skipper Joel Latibeaudiere has proved to be an inspirational leader at the heart of the defence. Central mid-fielders Tashan Oakley-Boothe and George McEachran have proved to be sensations at the central midfield in every match. Callum Hudson-Odoi has proved to be a more than worthy replacement for Jadon Sancho at left wing. Manchester City youth product Philip Foden has been easily England’s best player of the tournament wooing the crowd with his breathtaking skills and inch-perfect passes. For the scoring department, the English will be looking up to Liverpool FC youngster Rhian Brewster. With 7 goals in 5 games, including 2 back to back hat-tricks in the last two knock-out games, all eyes will be on the current golden boot contender.
Much like his counterpart, Spanish custodian Álvaro Fernández Calvo has been quite brilliant under the bar and will once again have a great role to play. Both the fullbacks Mateu Morey and Juan Miranda have been effective down the flanks as well as playing their duty in defending. Real Madrid academy star Mohamed Moukhliss has been another great performer for the Spanish at the centre of the midfield and will be locking horns with McEachran on Saturday. Valencia youngster Ferrán Torres and Barcelona youth player Sergio Gómez Martín have been brilliant in the wings throughout. Another La Masia product Abel Ruiz will be spearheading the attack for Spain. With 6 goals in as many matches, he will be challenging Brewster for the golden boot.
The match will be telecast live on Sony Ten 1, Sony Ten 2 and Sony Ten 3 from 8 pm IST. The third-place match starts from 5 pm IST.