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FIFA U-17 World Cup Final: Spanish Colts Hope to Emulate La Roja's 2010 Triumph

“We have not won the U-17 competition and we will go all out to make sure that changes. The senior team does serve as a source of inspiration for us,” said the coach Santiago Denia at the pre-match press conference at the Salt Lake Stadium.

Abhimanyu Sen | News18 Sports

Updated:October 28, 2017, 9:47 AM IST
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FIFA U-17 World Cup Final: Spanish Colts Hope to Emulate La Roja's 2010 Triumph
Spain celebrate after scoring a goal. (Twitter/FIFA)
Kolkata: When Andres Iniesta scored an extra time winner at Soccer City in Johannesburg against Holland in extra time to clinch the 2010 FIFA World Cup, it made La Roja champions of Europe and the World.

Cut to 2017, the junior most set of World Cuppers from Spain are one step away from emulating the same feat, at the U-17 level.

The team led by the able Abel Ruiz beat England 4-1 at the Stadion Anđelko Herjavec, Varaždin in Croatia earlier this year and now, they have the chance to emulate the seniors against same opponents.

“We have not won the U-17 competition and we will go all out to make sure that changes. The senior team does serve as a source of inspiration for us,” said coach Santiago Denia at the pre-match press conference at the Salt Lake Stadium.

The Spaniards who saw off the African champions Mali in Navi Mumbai had a Whatsapp group for the players which was called ‘Loading La India 50 per cent’, making their intentions clear as they have nothing but creating history on their mind.

When asked, defender Hugo Guillamon replied with a big smile and said the name of the group has been changed to La India 100% - the target has been locked in and the focus is unwavering.

At this age group the two time European champions, Spain have finished runners-up in 1991, 2003 in the competition. The latter edition saw the current Chelsea midfield maestro Cesc Fabregas named as the best player (Golden Ball) and take home the Golden Boot.

This is a statistic they very clearly want to change.

Spain have traditionally played their football with a distinct style – with the ball – tiki taka like they call it. The Ruiz led team continue to follow a similar pattern, and even though they haven’t been as menacing on the ball, the philosophy has in no way changed.

“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,” pointed out Denia.

For Spain, the likes of Ferran Torres, Abel Ruiz, Moha Moukhaliss, Sergio Gomez and Cesar Gelabert will be entrusted with the task of giving the English defence a tough time and adding to the 16 goals from the 6 games, because the final is likely to be about outscoring their opponents to take home the ultimate prize.

But along with the that it is important that the goal keeper Alvaro Fernandez who has conceded only 4 times so far, marshals his defenders with immaculate precision.

“It is important to be compact in all the departments of the game in the final. The packed house will be a motivating factor for my boys,” Denia noted.

The coach who is aware that the English team have more of physical presence than his boys, was quick to defend his boys, pointing out that they have played far more physical teams in the past have the technical acumen to deal with such a situation.

“We have been working for this moment for two years now and we will do whatever is in our power to take home the trophy,” the defender added.

Speaking on threat of the English attack that is led by the in-form Rhian Brewster and Phil Foden, Denia was quick to point out that it would be wrong to concentrate on just one or two individual players.

“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.”

When quizzed about the absence of the wonder kid Jadon Sancho who was forced to return to Borussia Dortmund after the group stages, Denia was full of praise for him.

“Sancho is a great player and has a great future.”

Another factor that has expectedly troubled a lot of teams at this World Cup has been the weather at the various venues. All teams have made it clear that their plans and tactics have often required a tweaking due to the conditions.

“We have not played in Kolkata as yet, but the fact is we have to adapt quickly in the game and we will do our best to for that,” Denia signed off.
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