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.
Tajikistan may be the runner-ups of the U16 AFC championship but they are a very limited team. They are very tactically disciplined and solid defensively, but in terms of general talent, their appearance in this World Cup was more of a tactical effort rather than quality.
Still, they could surprise a few but the most likely thing would be a group stage exit. Their effective tactics could be the surprise of the bunch.
Who to watch?
Club: Lokomotive Pamir
Height: 170 cm
Position: Right Midfielder
The midfielder was an interesting option in Asia. He scored two goals in qualification including key goals against Thailand (to see them through groups) and South Korea (to take them to the final). He’s certainly a big game player and has good positioning to be able to put in his defensive duties.
Argentina perhaps are the favourites to win the U17 World Cup. Despite their struggles in youth recently, this side has been winning since they were under 15. They won the U15 South American championship back in 2017, and a similar squad went onto win the U17 tournament in Peru earlier this year.
They were very convincing in both wins. They don’t play particularly pretty football, but more than anything they are solid, very good defensively whilst ruthless going forward. They’re also very effective and usually, they dominate the midfield. It is hard to look upon Argentina as not being one of the top 3 favourites to win the whole thing.
Who to watch?
Height: 184 cm
Position: Central Defender
Amione was key in Argentina’s defensive success in the Sudamericano. He didn’t play every game, but in the ones he did, Argentina never conceded (with the exception of one 2-2 draw).
He had 9.09 aerial duels per game, in which he won 55% of them. He also had 4.82 interceptions per game, and he made 2.23 clearances every 90 minutes he played in.
Argentina’s goalkeeper Rocco Rios wasn’t fantastic, but it should also be mentioned that they conceded few chances at all throughout the game, let alone goals. Amione must be mentioned for players to watch for this Albiceleste sides.
Club: San Lorenzo de Almagro
Height: 171 cm
Position: Attacking Midfielder
Palacios was the star for Argentina in this current process – and being a star in a side this stacked is something. He’s a very good dribbler and playmaker, and he also got three goals and one assist in the U17 Sudamericano.
He has a 74% success rate for passes to final third, in which he averaged 12.08 per game. He also had an xA of 0.24 despite only getting one in the whole tournament.
Finally, his passing success rate is 85%. It’s a great total for a number 10 and in a few matches got the stat near 95%.
Palacios works within a team with a high-pressure system. In one of Argentina’s goals during qualification, this was certainly the case. As the image above portrays, just as the Ecuadorian defender was making a pass to a teammate, Palacios began to try and intercept possession.
As a result of Matias’ aggressiveness, he was able to close space from the Ecuadorian and force a bad back pass.
As soon as the ball is back in possession for Argentina, Palacios makes an off-the-ball run (or overlap) into space.
His teammate Zeballos successfully makes the pass to overlapping Palacios and he finds himself clear on goal. This resulted in a mint finish and Argentina take the lead.
Cameroon are similar to Tajikistan. They finished as champions in Africa but are quite a limited side in reality. They play to their strengths well though and are quite dangerous offensively – definitely not a side others should underestimate.
They excel most in strength and speed but lack technical skills. However, they are African champions for a reason and can certainly be dangerous.
Who to watch?
Club: AS International
Height: 176 cm
Seidou was the stand-out player for Cameroon during the U17 AFCON. He was an interchangeable winger who could play on the left and right. He managed to score two goals and was very quick on the wing, giving his opposition trouble.
Here is an analysis:
While the ball is moving around swiftly between two Cameroon attackers, Seidou is out left offering some width to the side.
Seidou looks for the overlapping run and finds himself some open space to receive a pass.
The young Cameroonian was able to stay clear of opposing defenders and his extra width allowed him to find space inside the box to put the ball into the back of the net.
Club: AS Azur Star
Height: 172 cm
Position: Attacking Midfielder
Having made his senior debut for Cameroon, Mvoue is definitely one to keep an eye on. It’s not easy to make an early debut, let alone for one of the more successful African national teams.
Mvoue is an attacking midfielder who is in charge of progressing the game. His forward passes are at 7.69 per game, while his back passing is only at 2.56.
He’s quite a good dribbler too, as the stats would reflect well: he has 4.66 dribbles per 90, not a staggering number, but his success percentage is 65%.
The big story of FC Barcelona this season was the early success of 16-year-old Ansu Fati. While originally from Africa, he is eligible for Spain. Sadly, like Reinier Jesus, he won’t be participating in this tournament. Fati is deemed “above the age group” and was not allowed to partake in the tournament.
As for the team itself, they reached the UEFA U17 semi-finals before losing to the Netherlands. This team is perhaps the second weakest of the Europeans but are still a tough side and will be able to make a deep run. Their group is also very accessible for them.
Who to watch?
Height: 189 cm
Escobar will more than likely take the “star” quota in Fati’s absence. Escobar scored 2 goals in the UEFA U17 championship.
He was a decent centre forward for Spain and is going to be the one who shoots at goal. Very much a pure forward, as he doesn’t have plenty of progressive runs, but has 2.22 shots on target per 90. Also despite an xG of 0.22, he averages 0.44 goals.
Jordi Escobar is in the box with his marker, drawing in one defender while Navarro (20) also has his own man to worry about, but his presence will provide an extra body in the box.
As Escobar receives the ball, he has two options. Flick it backwards to Roberto Navarro or get it to the completely open number 10 German Valera. He was offering extra width, but is, unfortunately, a bit too far to pass to with his marker right on his trail, so he goes for the safer option and flicks it backwards to Navarro.
This was a successful offensive duel and a clear cut chance for Spain, but not a goal.
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