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 they perhaps are the weakest side making the flight to Brazil, it should be noted that they managed to beat New Zealand 5-0 in the OFC U16 championship and also took them to penalties in the final. They should not be a team others should sleep on.
It is hard to see how they will make it through this group but they have every possibility to get a point or 2. Will their tactics be solid enough to help them?
Who to watch?
Club: Wellington Phoenix Youth
Raphael won best player at the OFC U16 championship and also finished top scorer. It is tough to look beyond him as the player to watch out for on this Solomon Islands team. He had 8 goals total in that tournament and will likely be the one to spearhead the attack for the Oceanian team.
He’s also currently training at Wellington Phoenix, so he’s certainly caught the eye to some scouts as he was at Marist formerly in his native country.
After a disappointing U20 World Cup for Mexico, they will look to reverse their fortunes and have a better U17 World Cup in Brazil. The current CONCACAF champions are perhaps a tad weaker than the USA but not a lot and are very much a dark horse to win this tournament.
Not only that but they are in a very accessible group, so at the first hurdle they are certainly more than capable of going through and making a deep run.
Who to watch?
Club: La Galaxy
Height: 175 cm
Position: Attacking midfielder
Despite not shining in the CONCACAF U17 tournament, he is still one of the hottest prospects in North America at the moment, as he’s already consolidated himself as a part of the LA Galaxy first team, similar to Gianluca Busio.
In qualification, his xA was a huge 0.91 despite only getting 2 assists all tournament. He also attempted 2.25 through balls per game, to which 75% were accurate.
Efrain has been highly touted by North American press since he was 15 years old, and now is his time to shine if the MLS wasn’t already a big enough stage.
An example of Efrain Alvarez’ vision can be highlighted in this analysis. As Alvarez goes forward he has an opposing defender chasing after him.
The Mexican midfielder spots Muñoz who was about to execute his run into space. As he does, Efrain puts in his pass perfectly. This shows the quality of pass and can explain his absurdly high xA.
Muñoz scores and Efrain Alvarez is credited with the assist.
Paraguay were underdogs in the Sudamericano and they managed to finish 3rd. They were quite comfortable in qualification too. They like the long ball and like to play with a strong target man up front who will hold the ball up and dictate counter attacks.
They can definitely make a deep run as they have the quality but it will be interesting to see how they fare against 2 similar sides in Mexico and Italy.
Who to watch?
Club: Cerro Porteño
Height: 178 cm
Position: Holding midfielder
Fabrizio will certainly be the main man here just as he was in the Sudamericano. He’s certainly not one that immediately sticks out, but deeper analysing suggests he does a tremendous job in midfield for the Guarani’s.
He had 9.48 interceptions per game. Cutting out opposition attacks left and right. He also won 50% of his 15.6 defensive duels. Lastly, he had about 12.84 recoveries per game, to which 46% were in the opposition half.
Not only that but he knows how to score goals too, making him more complete. He scored 3 goals for Paraguay in the Sudamericano. Even with a low xG of 0.25, you’ve got to remember he sets out on defence more than anything.
Fabrizio Peralta closes down on the Chileans as they look to start a counter attack.
Peralta sits in between a Chilean link and is successfully able to win the interception.
In this particular game, Fabrizio had made 10 interceptions which is already high enough as it is.
Italy were runners up at the UEFA championship and is another team that can never be ruled out. They have a big scoring instinct but are also very good defensively like most Italy sides usually are.
They will be the favourites to make it through the group, and from there it will be interesting to see how far they can go.
Who to watch?
Height: 185 cm
Position: Central defender
Lorenzo Pirola is a left-sided CB who was in the UEFA U17 team of the tournament and was key in Italy only conceding 5 goals until the final. Of course, the story change from there as they conceded 4 more against the Netherlands at that stage,
The reason Pirola is one to watch is because of how good he is at what he does. For most of his stats, his success rate is over 50%. He wins 70% of his defensive duels, 77% of his aerial duels and 54% of his sliding tackles. He also averages 6.81 interceptions per game.
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