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FIFA U-17 World Cup: Brazil’s versatility shines in wins over Spain, North Korea

Top contenders Brazil have been impressive in their ability to switch styles in their two victories so far in the FIFA U-17 World Cup.

fifa u17 world cup 2017 Updated: Oct 11, 2017 20:15 IST
Bhargab Sarmah
Bhargab Sarmah
Hindustan Times, Kochi
FIFA U-17 World Cup,FIFA U-17 World Cup 2017,Brazil national under-17 football team
Brazil came back from a goal down to beat Spain in their opening game of the FIFA U-17 World Cup. (AFP )

Brazil required a hard-fought 2-0 victory over North Korea in their second Group D game on Tuesday to book their spot in the Round of 16 of the FIFA U-17 World Cup.

Having beaten Spain 2-1 in their opening game, it took Brazil’s points tally to six from two games, effectively sealing their progress.

What caught the eye about Brazil’s performance against North Korea was how they reacted to the Koreans’ compact defence that kept the scores 0-0 at halftime.

(Read | FIFA U-17 World Cup: Brazil take down North Korea with second half flourish)

Brazil made minor tweaks to their game early in the second half. The link-up between forwards Brenner, Paulinho and Lincoln, who often inter-changed positions, created some confusion in the Korean backline.

With midfielders Alan Souza and Marcos Antonio closely marked, holding midfielder Victor Bobsin saw himself playing a more prominent role going forward.

Bobsin’s strength, positioning and close passing meant Brazil gave North Korea little space for counters while also freeing up space for Alan and Marcos in the second half.

(Read | FIFA U-17 World Cup: India goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh makes an impact)

Brazil’s patience

The South American champions’ persistence paid off in the second half when Lincoln and Paulinho scored within five minutes of each other to seal the win.

“We don’t choose our opponents or the strategies they use. But we have to get used to alternative styles of play. If they put us under pressure we have to be ready, and if they park the bus, we have to adapt to that as well,” Brazil coach Carlos Amadeu said after the win.

(Read | FIFA U-17 World Cup: ‘Outsider’ Paul Pogba the talisman for African newbies Guinea)

Amadeu praised Bobsin, the Gremio starlet who says he has modelled his game on Barcelona’s Sergio Busquets. Bobsin helped Brazil push forward after Alan and Marcos often found themselves surrounded by Korean defenders.

Before the tournament, Amadeu had told reporters his side was ready to adapt to any style of football. “We’ve been preparing since 2015. The players are used to our system. We have many alternatives to our style.”

(Read | FIFA U-17 World Cup: Ghana’s Sadiq Ibrahim wants to emulate Eden Hazard at Chelsea)

Switching styles

Brazil’s versatility was underlined by the fact that they managed to score twice without having to make substitutions. “In the second half, we started to alternate balls through the middle from the wingers (which helped us score),” Amadeu said.

“We’ve been trying to prepare players for different situations. We have to prepare for when we are ahead as well as behind. Our team has to be balanced all the time.

“In the last game, we had to soak in pressure from Spain, and today we were dominating throughout. This is something which will help these players in the future.”

Brazil have headed to Goa for their final Group D game against Niger on Friday, and will find huge support from the fans. With six points in the bag, they are favourites to win the group. That will hand them a Round of 16 tie in Kochi against a third-placed team from Group B, E or F.

First Published: Oct 11, 2017 20:15 IST