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FIFA U-17 World Cup Final: England, Spain Set for Date With Destiny in Kolkata

On Saturday evening all of this comes to an end with the first ever all European final in the tournament with England and European champions Spain set to battle for what will be either’s first title in the competition.

Abhimanyu Sen | News18 Sports

Updated:October 28, 2017, 10:46 AM IST
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FIFA U-17 World Cup Final: England, Spain Set for Date With Destiny in Kolkata
Spain players celebrate (Photo by Mike Hewitt - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)
Kolkata: Since October 6, India and the world have been witness to some scintillating football in the FIFA U-17 World Cup.

On Saturday evening all of this comes to an end with the first ever all European final in the tournament with England and European champions Spain set to battle for what will be either’s first title in the competition.

The two are familiar foes, with Spain having had the better of England earlier in the year in the final of the European Championships in Croatia.

The English led by the commanding captain Joel Latibeaudiere have since gone from strength to strength and come into this final unbeaten with one eye on revenge.

“The Euro final was a different experience for us and we have learnt and grown from that game. We are well prepared for Spain.” Latibeaudiere said.

Spain, led by the Barcelona product Abel Ruiz have a chance to rewrite the history books and emulate the senior team of 2010.

“We have not won the U-17 competition and we will go all out to make sure that changes,” said coach Santiago Denia at the pre-match press conference at the Salt Lake Stadium.

The English swatted away the challenges from USA and Brazil with some very vibrant football in the knockout stages thanks to consecutive hat-tricks from Rhian Brewster. Along with the wingers Callum Hudson-Odoi and Phil Foden, Brewster has formed a trio that has run most defences at this tournament ragged. Expect them to have the same kind intensity and bite against Hugo Guillamon and company.

The Lions have not only been fantastic upfront in attack and played a brand of football that is very unlike their usual philosophy which is more direct, but have also been water tight in defence. Led by the centre-back pairing of Latibeaudiere and Marc Guehi, they have kept three clean sheets and conceded only 4 times so far. They will have to be at their absolute best if they want to keep the likes of Torres, Gomez and Ruiz silent for the 90 minutes.

“We have been working together to play in a certain manner with a certain plan in every game. We know our opponents well and we will plan accordingly for them. Spain are a very strong and compact team,” quipped Cooper.

The Spaniards have had a similar kind of potency and sting in their attacking half right through the tournament. Their second goal against Mali in the semi-final saw Cesar split the defence with a deft touch only for his captain Ruiz to slot home with ease – a testament to their tactical superiority.

The likes of Abel Ruiz, Ferran Torres, Cesar Gelabart and Sergio Gomez have found the back of the net a total of 16 times so far, and will be hungry for more when they take the playing field at the Salt Lake Stadium for the first time.

But, just as coach Denia pointed out, it is important to defend well too.

“We like to play with the ball that is our style, but the most important thing is to realise that unless we attack well we can’t defend well, and vice versa.”

While Guillamon and Alvaro have the rather daunting task of keeping the defence intact against the top scorers of the tournament, Spain's colts will need the Real Madrid man Alvaro Blanco to find his feet and set the tone for them from the midfield.

“England have improved by leaps and bounds since the Euro final, and they are in the final because they worked well as a team all through.” coach Denia added.

Both these teams have played Brazil at different stages of the tournament and their coach Carlos Amadeu seems to think the English have more of a physical presence than the tactical Spain.

One will see a packed house at the Salt Lake Stadium which on more days than not, has been sort of a second home for the English, while Spain will play there for the first time.

The World Cup final promises to be a riveting affair, but often these games are more about handling the nerves on the day. Both teams have more or less lived up to the billing of playing entertaining football and Kolkata promises to be in for a treat - one last time!

Squads:

England: Curtis Anderson, Josef Bursik, William Crelin; Timothy Eyoma, Joel Latibeaudiere, Marc Guehi, Jonathan Panzo, Lewis Gibson, Steven Sessegnon, Morgan Gibbs White, Tashan Oakley Boothe; Conor Gallagher, Angel Gomes, Nya Kirby, George McEachran; Callum Hudson Odoi, Philip Foden, Emile Smith Rowe, Rhian Brewster, Danny Loader

Spain: Alvaro Fernandez, Mateu Jaume, Juan Miranda, Hugo Guillamon, Victor Chust, Antonio Blanco, Ferran Torres, Mohamed Moukhliss, Abel Ruiz, Sergio Gomez, Nacho Diaz, Pedro Ruiz, Marc Vidal, Alvaro Garcia, Eric Garcia, Diego Pampin, Jose Lara, Cesar Gelabert, Carlos Beitia, Victor Perea, Alfonso Pastor.
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