U17 World Cup 2019 – Group D Preview

Under 17 World Cup 2019 - Group D Preview tactics

The U17 World Cup is upon us! With it set to begin on Saturday, October 26th, 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.


While currently going through a huge transition in their senior team, the USA U17 side is probably one of the favourites to win this tournament. They are stacked with talent, many of who have MLS experience even at this age.

They failed to win the qualification tournament but got to the final and got outdone by a similar side in Mexico, but even with that the talent they have could be enough to see them through. Here is an analysis.

Who to watch?

Gianluca Busio
Age: 17
Club: Sporting Kansas City
Height: 172 cm
Position: Central Midfielder

The young Italian-American has consolidated himself as an important part of Sporting Kansas City’s first team even despite his age. He’s managed two goals and two assists in the MLS which is a very good total for his age.

In the CONCACAF U17 championship, he averaged an xG of 0.7 which is an extremely high total for a midfielder. He scored five goals in qualification and also made several progressive runs. Per 90, he averaged 1.44 progressive runs.

He also has a very good ability to pass. His xA is also quite high being at 0.27 which is above the average. His passing success rate is 86% which is also a good figure.

Busio is likely to be one of the stars of the tournament and will definitely be one to watch out for.

Under 17 World Cup 2019 - Group D Preview tactics

Busio being marked in a blue circle slowly walks his way to space in case Leyva is able to get a touch of the ball.

Under 17 World Cup 2019 - Group D Preview tactics

Leyva makes a pass to Gianluca Busio who is in clear open space.

Under 17 World Cup 2019 - Group D Preview tactics

While his teammate makes a run in between 2 players, Busio is going to receive the ball from Leyva. He can either hold onto it or immediately make a through ball on the first time to surprise the opposition.

Under 17 World Cup 2019 - Group D Preview tactics

In this case, he does the latter and chips the ball over to Ricardo Pepi.

Honourable mentions

Giovanni Reyna

Reyna currently at Borussia Dortmund is the son of former USMNT player Claudio Reyna, and is highly rated by locals. Dortmund clearly saw something in him and he impressed at the U17 CONCACAF championship.

The young American has a lot to prove in this tournament were the USA are amongst one of the more talented teams.


Japan were unconvincing in the U16 AFC Championship even despite winning the tournament. However, they had two stars in the team that were superb and carried them through their rough spells.

This will be an interesting team as we cannot be sure which Japan will show up. It will be interesting to see what tactics they will deploy.

Who to watch?

Shoji Toyama
Age: 17
Club: Gamba Osaka
Height: 178 cm
Position: Right winger

Shoji was incredible for Japan on the right wing during qualification. He maintained consistency even when the team wasn’t playing that well and he has a goal or 2 in him. He finished joint top scorer with Noah Botic and bagged 5 goals in the tournament.

He’s also incredibly fast and can deal lots of damage down that right wing. Finally, he’s a composed player meaning that he’s pretty much sure to score if given a clear cut.

Jun Nishikawa
Age: 17
Club: Cerezo Osaka
Height: 181 cm
Position: Attacking midfielder

He showed so much promise in the U16 championship that he not only won the golden ball as an award after the tournament, he also got a chance to play in the U20 World Cup in Poland earlier this year.

He played 2 full games and came on as a sub in another, so there is a small sample size. He did show flashes of talent though and he’s one to keep an eye on in this tournament where he’s able to pick on others his own size.

Under 17 World Cup 2019 - Group D Preview tactics

An example of Japan’s goal in the AFC U16 final, Nishikawa was roaming in the box in complete space. Perhaps a bit of bad marking from Tajikistan’s side, but you still need to give Jun credit for always searching for some room.

Under 17 World Cup 2019 - Group D Preview tactics

Shoji Toyama beats his marker and makes a cross to which Nishikawa is able to finish.


Senegal did not finish in the top four in the U17 AFCON and got their World Cup spot after Guinea was expelled due to having footballers over the age of 17 after an investigation.

They were rough at AFCON and are probably going to be one of the weaker sides in Brazil for the tournament.

Who to watch?

Aliou Balde
Age: 16
Club: Diambars
Height: 163 cm
Position: Right Winger

In a small sample size, Aliou Balde stood out for a poor Senegal side in the qualifiers. He scored 2 goals and had an xG of 0.8 in the three games. He also looked like a decent talent overall with good dribbling and quick feet.

He had a 66% success rate of about 5.84 dribbles per game. The amount isn’t staggering but his percentage is a positive and he’s able to use his feet to work his way to the box.

Under 17 World Cup 2019 - Group D Preview tactics

Balde is in between 2 defenders waiting to make a run, as his teammate contemplates which pass is best.

Under 17 World Cup 2019 - Group D Preview tactics

He begins to make the run and manages to just stay onside as his teammate is convinced to go for the through ball.

Under 17 World Cup 2019 - Group D Preview tactics

Balde is through on goal with nothing but the goalkeeper to beat.

Under 17 World Cup 2019 - Group D Preview tactics

Balde beats the keeper but makes a mistouch to the ball, so he is left at a tough angle. In this situation, he can either risk and shoot at goal or make a pass to a teammate in a better position so he could have a chance. In this case, he goes for the latter.

Unfortunately, his teammate skied the shot, but he was able to get to the ball.


As the European champions, they are absolutely going to be one of the favourites. The Netherlands is slowly rising back to glory and in the U17’s they are going to want to keep making more of an impression.

Beating Italy 4-2 in the final, the Netherlands will fly to Brazil intending to take the trophy home, or at least go on a very deep run to continue their growth and hopefully find some more success at the end of it.

Who to watch?

Calvin Raatsie
Age: 17
Club: AFC Ajax
Height: 181 cm
Position: Goalkeeper

The long and boring answer to goalkeepers is that they have good reflexes and good shot-stopping, however, there is more to it then that with Calvin, he is very good with his feet and that is a sign of a goalkeeper with huge potential.

His short passing has an accuracy of 95%. This seems like an easy figure, but where it’s very telling is his long pass accuracy, which is 54%. He knows where he wants to place his pass and he’ll do a job in picking out the right player.

Honourable mentions

Ki Jana-Hoever

The right-back currently playing at Liverpool is one of the better players in this Netherlands team. He was named best right back in UEFA qualification and has a world stage to prove himself on for as long as the Dutch remain in the tournament.

If you love tactical analysis, then you’ll love the digital magazines from totalfootballanalysis.com – a guaranteed 100+ pages of pure tactical analysis covering topics from the Premier League, Serie A, La Liga, Bundesliga and many, many more. Buy your copy of the October issue for just ₤4.99 here