The U17 World Cup is upon us! With it set to begin on Saturday, the 26th of October, Brazil is ready to receive the 24 teams who qualified and set their eyes out for glory.
Brian Bertie managed to follow every single team in qualification and will set out a preview of every single team, their expectations, and who to watch including a tactical analysis.
South Korea are an excellent side – they have a lot of flair within them and are a very dynamic and progressive team. They may have not won the AFC U16 championship, but they have no problems scoring goals when given the space. They have good tactics and are quite disciplined in that sense.
Perhaps the South Koreans’ problems come from teams sitting deep. In Asia, they struggled with India and Tajikistan, two teams that were tactically disciplined and had good positioning. They beat India by a narrow scoreline of 1-0, and lost to Tajikistan on penalties, having drawn 1-1. They are very technically gifted and will score goals for fun when given space, but they will struggle against teams that look to park the bus.
Who to watch?
Club: FC Seoul
Height: 174 cm
Tae-Seok is a very good left-back for this South Korea side. It’s not easy to find complete full-backs below the age of 17, but Lee Tae-Seok manages to be one and has huge potential to make it at a professional stage.
Currently playing for Seoul, he was very good in the build-up on the left side and overlapped several times to add more width. His crossing and underlapping are also good, and he’s one that should be interesting to keep an eye out on.
Club: Pohang Steelers
Height: 177 cm
Position: Attacking midfielder
Certainly one of the most interesting players to keep an eye out on. The star of this South Korea team who is so progressive and is your classic East-Asian playmaker – very similar to a young Shinji Kagawa, or the now popular Takefusa Kubo. Excellent vision, pace and passing.
He scored two goals in the AFC U16 championship, but really was an explosive player going forward and the creative mind of this South Korea team. This is a big test as he was arguably one of the best players in the Asian U16 and their best upcoming talent since Lee Seung-Woo dominated at youth.
Yun-Sang looks to pounce on a poor Australia backpass and begins running towards the ball.
After showing some impressive work rate, he has a defensive duel with the Australian central defender.
He wins the duel quite easily, makes a small dribble and finds himself clear on goal.
The South Korean is able to score after all that.
The South Korean number nine was a very interesting deep-lying forward, being able to hold up the ball for his teammates to make a run and initiate a counter. He also has goals in him as he scored two in the AFC qualification.
The Chileans have worried about their possible young players of the future, with most of the youth teams being deemed not good enough. However, this team is the opposite. They have some very talented players and they play like a team. Here is an analysis.
Very dynamic and electrifying in attack. Great dribblers on the wing and the entire front four is capable of supporting and scoring goals. Also, their full-backs are very attacking as well.
These are going to be amongst the dark horses to win the tournament. The only thing that should be noted is they have a different manager now than they did back in March when they played in the U17 Sudamericano, so that will be interesting to see.
Who to watch?
Club: Universidad Catolica
Height: 175 cm
Position: Centre forward
Aravena was mostly a 10 in qualifying but can also play up front as the striker. Perhaps as a 9 he’s suited better, as his creation stats weren’t too great.
He had more back passes than forward. He also only attempted 0.33 through balls per game, so not very many. He’s really suited to scoring goals, but if you look at his heat map, you can see how much deeper he was playing.
In terms of scoring goals, he is the main man Chile need to look for. His xG over the U17 Sudamericano was 0.56 and scored four goals throughout the tournament. He also had a 50% success rate of shots on target of 3.32 per 90.
He also had 1.44 progressive runs per game. He really looks forward and is great for counter-attacking, which is what this Chile side look for – having the ball in a dangerous position and sending three or four men forward. Definitely one of the key players in this side.
Club: Universidad Catolica
Height: 178 cm
Arguably the most talented player in the South American qualifiers, an extremely dynamic right-winger with extraordinary dribbling skills and good end product. Hasn’t debuted yet in Chile but is due to get some minutes next season.
To prove further how electric this Chile team is, he spearheads the line. He has about 2.5 progressive runs per game. He also makes about 8.92 dribbles per game, to which 48% are successful. Perhaps his consistency was a problem, but when he was on form, he was the driving force in Chile’s success.
Tapia’s progressiveness and ability to find openings was impressive, as demonstrated below:
As mentioned, Chile are a very electrifying attacking team. In this counter, Tapia runs through the middle as he has no marker.
As his teammate (10) goes to the open space to receive the ball, he brings in a Peruvian defender allowing Tapia big space to get a clear cut chance should the final cross be successful.
Tapia is all by himself, and all that’s needed now is for him to receive the ball. A little bit of good technique should see him through.
He is able to receive the ball, round the goalkeeper and score Chile’s 2nd goal of the game.
The Chilean right-back is a very dynamic and attacking player who works well in Chile’s offensive system. He has a 15:2 forward to back passes ratio per 90 and like most of the team, is forward-thinking. The young right-back is definitely one to keep an eye out on.
Haiti was solid in the CONCACAF U17, but despite this are still probably the weakest team in the group. They are mostly defensively apt and are very tactically disciplined. They are also decent on the counter which is unlike most Haitian sides.
They will probably get a point out of someone in the group, but it won’t be easy to count on them getting out of the group.
Who to watch?
Height: 173 cm
The Haitian left-back was named as the best in his position for the U17 CONCACAF tournament. He is mostly an offensive-minded player.
He made 6.81 offensive duels per game, to which he found a 48% success rate. Of the 3.65 dribbles, he found 68% success.
He’s decent defensively too, as he makes 3.49 interceptions per game and wins 71% of the 6.31 defensive duels per game.
However, he’s a player that the wingers can rely on for extra wide support more than anything. He can do a job defensively but he’s better when sent forward.
In a Haitian attack, Stanley Guirand goes up to support the attackers.
Guirand makes the overlap and provides width and an extra passing option for his teammate.
While his teammate opted to cut inside instead of passing to the overlapping player, here you can get a good idea of Guirand’s tactical flexibility.
On the other side of Guirand, we have Geffrard. The right-back functions in a similar light to his counterpart. Good at overlapping and mostly an offensive player – like Stanley, he was also named in the U17 CONCACAF team of the tournament.
You can never rule out France, especially not in youth tournaments. They have several players who have debuted professionally in Ligue 1 or 2 and are also with the luxury of great facilities compared to some of the other countries which have boosted their development.
That said, they are not in an easy group. They are probably the favourites to get through but this will still be a test for them as Chile and South Korea can certainly do some damage.
Who to watch?
Club: Inter Milan
Height: 189 cm
Position: Central Midfielder
Born in Cameroon, the youth international decided to play for France and has moved to Inter Milan after a promising start at Sochaux. He is a defensive-minded midfielder who mostly plays on the right.
In qualification, Agoume managed 5.38 interceptions per 90. He also won half of his aerial duel which he averaged about 5.38 per game. Of course, this number may not be huge but he’s not playing central defender, so it isn’t a bad figure.
He’s usually pretty accurate with his passing as he has 84% accuracy and also likes to play it long. He gets about 23 balls forward per game and only four going back.
In this screenshot, Lucien Agoume waltz out of his position to try and intimidate a Swedish defender.
Agoume showed a lot of aggressiveness in trying to win the ball back in a dangerous position.
His heat map demonstrates that he likes to roam out of his position and win the ball back wherever he can.
To add onto this, he averages 12.95 recoveries per game, which about 50% are in the opposition half.
Adil is often touted as France’s most marquee player. He finished top scorer at the U17 Euros and has made a brief Paris Saint-Germain appearance in Ligue 1. The French attacker is definitely a player that cannot be left out.
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