FIFA U-17 World Cup: Brazil pin hope on Vinicius-Alan duo for glory
Brazil, three-time champions of the FIFA U-17 World Cup, are relying on Real Madrid signee Vinicius Junior and their midfield lynchpin Alan De Souza Guimaraes to do well in the 2017 edition in IndiaUpdated: Sep 30, 2017 08:32 IST
Zico-Socrates, Denis Bergkamp-Thierry Henry, Cristiano Ronaldo-Wayne Rooney. These are some of the top partnerships football has seen over the years.
Something similar is brewing in the Brazilian squad between wonderkid Vinicius Junior and their midfield lynchpin Alan De Souza Guimaraes one which threatens to rip through the opposition defence when the FIFA U-17 World Cup kicks off on October 6.
Vinicius’ goals on assists from Alan were instrumental in Brazil winning the Under-17 South American Championships. Maybe that camaraderie prompted Real Madrid to enquire about the latter’s availability with his Sau Paulo-based club Palmeiras.
Camped in Mumbai over the last few days, Alan was eagerly awaiting the arrival of his partner-in-crime – Vinicius.
“I like to play with Vinicius. He gives me lot of options when I line-up my passes. During the South American Championships I assisted him for many goals and he is the one player I’m expecting to see soon. We like to play together,” said the 17-year-old Alan on the sidelines of their training session at the Andheri Sports Complex.
Vinicius is expected to arrive in Mumbai on Saturday but that hasn’t stopped Brazilians to go all out in training.
On Friday, their focus was on improving their positional play while defending. Expectedly so, after all they had some jittery moments in the dying minutes against New Zealand on Thursday.
While coach Carlos Amadeu went from player-to-player in the 18-yard box, taking them through the nuances of defending, Alan was out in the midfield, putting in cross after cross -- some low, some high -- to test the mettle of his taller colleagues at clearing those.
Standing at 5’4’’, Alan is the smallest player in the Brazilian squad, but may well turn out to be their main weapon as they try to rip open stronger opponents and clinch their first title since 2003. He has no issues regarding his height disadvantage as well.
“Everybody asks me about my height but I use the lack of it to my advantage. Because of my short stature, I have more agility and when come up against taller players, they can’t reach me as I’m more faster for than them,” said Alan.
The diminutive Brazilian admires Barcelona Andres Iniesta and he tries to imitate him. “I watch his video’s as inspirations before every game and try to do the same thing on the pitch. Hopefully I can reach the levels that he has reached but I will need to work hard for that,” said Alan, who was courted by Inter Milan earlier this year and which prompted Palmeiras to add a €50 million buy-out clause in his contract.
This Brazilian team has been together since 2015 and Alan feels it will help them perform better than other teams in the World Cup. “We have been together for two years. Outside the pitch we have perfect relationship which is something that we can take onto the pitch and get the results.”
First Published: Sep 30, 2017 08:32 IST