Brazilian flair up against English resolve

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 25 Oct 2017 09:53:09



TRADITIONAL powerhouse Brazil will rely on their much-admired natural flair when they take on a resolute England in what promises to be a stirring semi-final contest of the FIFA Under-17 World Cup here on Wednesday.
Brazil survived a scare of sorts against Germany in the quarter-finals. In front of a crowd of over 60,000, the Brazilians took more than 70 minutes to get on the score-sheet before managing to seal it in their favour.
The two spectacular strikes from Weverson and Paulinho saved the day for them after usually clinical Germans had taken the lead in the first half.

The crowd is once again expected to be behind the South Americans at the iconic Salt Lake Stadium on Wednesday despite the fact that the match was shifted here at the last minute from Guwahati due to the rain-soaked poor pitch conditions there.
The last-minute shift caused players of both the teams some inconvenience as they had already reached Guwahati and had to take another flight within hours of alighting there.
England were based here for three group matches and the round of 16 game before proceeding to Margao for the quarter-final.

Brazil, on the other hand, were earlier based in Kochi and Margao but felt at home here after getting overwhelming support at the Salt Lake Stadium in their 2-1 win over Germany. From the days of incomparable Pele’s first visit to the city in 1977, Kolkata fans have been traditional Brazil supporters.
Except for a brief period against Spain in their campaign opener, Brazil were largely untested before the Germany clash.

It was the first time in the tournament that Brazil were truly rattled. The Germans were, in fact, the dominant side, especially in the first half.
Brazil turned it around through two special strikes from Weverson and Paulinho in the space of six minutes to remain on course for their fourth title overall and first since 2003.

Brazil’s strike trio of Paulinho, Lincoln and Brenner have been in great form. Paulinho though overshadowed the other two in the match against Germany.
Alan and Marcos Antonio were not allowed to dominate the midfield by the Germans in the first half but they came into their own in the second session.

Brazil’s defence has also been rock solid with Vitao marshalling the back four admirably without conceding a field goal so far in the tournament. They have conceded two goals in the tournament but the first against
Spain was an own goal by Wesley while the German goal in the quarter-finals was from the spot.
Goalkeeper Gabriel Brazao has proven difficult to beat. With a save rate of 88.9 per cent, the Brazil custodian is yet to let an opposition strike find the back of his net from open play.

However, Brazil’s defence was breached several times by the Germans in the first half of their quarter-final match and it will be interesting to see how they hold up against England forwards, who have scored 15 goals in five matches so far.

England are brimming with confidence after their 4-1 decimation of United States of America in the quarter-finals. This England side, whose players are from the youth teams of the top English Premier League clubs, has had an impressive run in the tournament.

They were practically unstoppable in the group stage and found their first real test against a plucky Japanese side in the pre-quarterfinals.
It seemed that England felt the absence of star striker Jadon Sancho against Japan and the match could have gone either ways. But they won it in the penalty shoot-out.
Sancho left for Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund after the group stages but the ‘Three Lions’ showed they could deal with that by completely outplaying USA in the quarter-finals.

Brazil reaching the semi-finals here, they have achieved what their peers have not done so far in three earlier attempts.
Liverpool youth team player Rhian Brewster has been in ruthless form and must be raring to go after his hat-trick against USA. Also Phil Foden of Manchester City with his fluid movement at the right channel and Chelsea starlet Callum Hudson-Odoi at the left flank would be keenly watched.

Brewster is a goal behind the top-scorer trio of Jann-Fiete Arp of Germany, Lassana N’Diaye of Mali and France’s Amine Gouiri who all have scored five goals each.
Manchester United Starlet Angel Gomes has been used sparingly by head coach Steve Cooper.
England have also conceded just three goals in the tournament so far but that could change on Wednesday against the likes of Paulinho, Lincoln, Alan and Brenner.

The Teams (From):
Brazil: Gabriel Brazao, Wesley, Vitao. Lucas Halter, Victor Bobsin, Weverson, Paulinho, Marcos Antonio, Lincoln, Alan, Lucao, Matheus Stockl, Rodrigo Guth, Luan Candido, Victor Yan, Rodrigo Nestor, Vitinho, Yuri Alberto, Brenner, Yuri Sena.

England: Curtis Anderson, Josef Bursik, William Crelin, Timothy Eyoma, Joel Latibeaudiere, Marc Guehi, Jonathan Panzo, Lewis Gibson, Steven Sessegnon, Morgan Gibbs White, Tashan Oakley Boothe, Conor Gallagher, Angel Gomes, Nya Kirby, George McEachran, Callum Hudson Odoi, Philip Foden, Emile Smith Rowe, Rhian Brewster, Daniel Loader.Match starts 5pm IST.