Our quarterfinal match-up against Brazil will be one of the biggest tests for us, as the Brazilians – in any age group – are always considered one of the best teams in world. So far in this year’s U-17 World Championship, they have lived up to their reputation, easily advancing into the second round by outscoring their three Group C opponents (Cameroon, Portugal and Yemen) 9 to 1.
This team plays the style of football we have come to know the Brazilians for. Their formation is a 4-2-2-2, which allows them to get great mobility in their attack. The outside backs in this formation are critical, and the two on this team do an outstanding job. Their right back, Leo, and their left back, Sandro, have proved to be two of the best players in the tournament so far. They’ve reeked havoc on their opponents by making deep penetrating runs into the attack and both are gifted technically, proving numerous times they can beat defenders in one-on-one situations. If the opportunity to penetrate on the dribble is denied, they then look to combine with their target players or attacking midfielders. Also, in this system, the two front runners and the two attacking midfielders can show up anywhere on the field, making it difficult to match up and close down their attack.
Defensively, the two center backs and holding midfielders tend to stay at home. With the outside backs given the freedom to rush up the wings, the two center backs are comfortable with having even numbers defending. The fact that they only gave up one goal so far in the tournament is proof to their defensive prowess. Brazil’s goalkeeper, Bruno, is extremely gifted with his feet. His distribution on sidewinder volleys is a definite weapon, as he is able to strike the ball 70-yards to a streaking forward with pinpoint accuracy.
As an overview, they are a technical team at every position. They all understand the role they are asked to play, as some are given a tremendous amount of freedom when attacking, while others are responsible to stay at home and defend.
With kickoff in a few hours, we have prepared well and are confident we can topple Brazil and advance to the semifinal. The players are motivated and will be looking to make history on the field today.