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FIFA U17 World Cup: Brazil vs England - What you can expect from today's big semi-final

608   //    25 Oct 2017, 12:08 IST

Paulinho is the man to watch
Paulinho is the man to watch

We are at the business end of this edition of the age-category World Cup that is being held for the very first time in this country. So far the script has been crisp and now that we are at the semi-final stages, the teams that have got there on merit to be so.

The first semis will be just a few hours away. To be played between Brazil and England – here’s what you can expect.  

Attack: Both the teams of this semi-final don’t hold their reigns when it comes to attacking their opponents. In fact, one can even say that these are the top two among best attacking teams in this competition. So far England has scored 15 goals – the team with the highest number of goals so far alongside Mali and France, while Brazil has scored 11. One can definitely expect some goals in this encounter and spectacular ones at that.  

Rhian Brewster’s strike against USA and Pualhinho’s chanceless hit in his last game against Germany have not gone unnoticed.

It may be interesting to note that eight different players have scored for England while so far five Brazilians have found their name in the score-sheet. England may a bit more versatile and most adventurous to boot when it comes to scoring.

The English team is very fast to get out of the blocks, scores early even before their opponents have settled into a rhythm and maintains a machine-gun attack till about the 70th-minute mark. Except for the game against Japan they held the lead within first 20-minutes.

Two more names to reckon within this section will be Lincoln (Brazil) and Loader (England). Lincoln, a troublesome forward is due for a goal and Loader who came in as a substitute against Iraq has already scored two.  

Midfield: England seems to be clear winners in this department compared to Brazil. To start with they have Phil Foden, Angel Gomes (Captain), Callum Hudson-Odoi, and if Carlos Amadeu, the Brazilian coach makes the same mistake like he did in the first half against the Germany match, it might well be over in the opening 45 minutes. Brazil does have the services of Marcos Antonio and Alan but if they do not have the supporting numbers, it might prove to be disastrously decisive.     

Defence: Both the teams have conceded two goals each. But still, English backline is a bit wobbly though they have Joel Laibeaudiere and Jonathan Panzo as the sentinels. Comparatively Wesley, Weverson, Lucas Halter, and team captain, Vitao are collectively a better defensive bunch.

Heat and humidity: England seems to be better adjusted to the ensuing conditions. They have played two of their games in this match time slot during their ‘home’ group-stages. They have also had their quarter-final game earlier than Brazil, so have more recovery period. Amadeu had mentioned about his team’s tiredness and recovery as factors in their Germany game. On top, the overnight journey to Guwahati and hasty return might prove to be too hectic for them.

The conditioning of the players may be crucial in this game. It may not be out of place to mention that England have a better bench-strength. Their replacements have got a game, game and half while Brazil has stuck to almost the same bunch and even then their subs have packed in each about half-hour tops.    

Crowd factor: There will be a sizeable number in the stands for sure. Online ticketing commenced at 8.30 pm yesterday and by 1 am in the night, there was a queue of 1 lac buyers. Brazil will receive the maximum support for sure, but England won’t be left hung to dry as the Germans. Let’s peg it at 75-25% for Brazil. Paulinho and co., expected to be better adjusted to the gallery numbers in their second encounter at Salt Lake Stadium would like to feed off it.  

Possible Strategy: Steve Cooper, the English coach will like to reprise the Mexico game, score three early goals - even if you concede two, to end up as a one-goal game. Amadeu should take notes from the England-Japan encounter and play a blocking game to see off at least 70 minutes. Instead of a distinct top-line, Paulinho can play like a ‘trequartista’ and move up in the last 15 minutes. Paulinho who combines physical abilities with his finishing skills can certainly do better than Takefusa Kubo.      

It may be noted that Brazil have not scored more than two goals so far except against a decidedly weak Honduras side where they slotted in three. So one might say – at best it can be a two-goal game for Brazil. If they let in two, they might as well be playing for the penalties as a best-case scenario.  

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Sudipto Mullick is a freelance writer and contributes on various subjects for The Statesman, Delhi Press ( magazines Woman's Era, Alive and their websites) and few other news portals.
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