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FIFA U-17 World Cup, England vs Spain: ESP strengths, weaknesses and key players

Spain will be eyeing their maiden FIFA U-17 World Cup title with a win against England in the final at Kolkata

fifa u17 world cup 2017 Updated: Oct 28, 2017 13:36 IST
Bhargab Sarmah
Bhargab Sarmah
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
FIFA U-17 World Cup,England vs Spain,England U-17 football team
Spain celebrate after winning their semi-final match against Mali during the FIFA U-17 World Cup at the DY Patil stadium in Navi Mumbai. Spain will face England in the final at Kolkata. (AFP)

Spain take on England in the final of FIFA U-17 World Cup in Kolkata on Saturday. Both teams have never won the tournament.

The two sides have been among the two most attacking teams in this competition. While England have scored 18 goals so far, Spain have 15 to their credit.

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For Spain, it will be their fourth appearance in a FIFA U-17 World Cup final. Before this they finished runner-up in 1991, 2003 and 2007.

Here’s a look at Spain’s strengths, weaknesses and their key players ahead of the final.

Strengths:

Speed - Spain’s speed going forward is a constant threat for opponents. The European champions can be very lethal on the break because of the pace they possess.

Strong wing-play - While Spain can break teams down with fluent passing, one of their biggest weapons is wing-play. Ferran Torres on the right and Sergio Gomez on the left have stunned full-backs in this tournament, and will be key to their chances against England.

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Finishing ability - Six players have scored for Spain in this tournament, with Barcelona B forward Abel Ruiz top-scoring with six goals. Having scored 15 goals in six games, there is no doubting this team’s finishing ability.

Weaknesses:

Question marks in defence - Coach Santiago Denia has made no secret of his desire for further improvements in his backline. While Spain have conceded just five goals in six games, they came under pressure against France, Iran and Mali in the knockout games. While these three opponents wasted a number of chances, Spain will expect no such favours from England.

Isolation of Abel Ruiz - While Abel Ruiz has scored six goals in this tournament, England will look to replicate what Brazil did against the Spaniards. Playing a high defensive line with a narrow formation, Brazil cut off the supply line to Ruiz, keeping him isolated for a majority of the opening game.

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Lack of physical presence - While Spain are one of the most technically superior sides in this tournament, they have shown very little physical aggression in this campaign. They lack physical players who can play the role of a disruptor and help soak up pressure.

Three players to watch out for:

Abel Ruiz - The Barcelona B forward has effectively led the lines for his team in this tournament. Having scored six goals, he will look to add to his tally in the final.

Ferran Torres - A youth product of Valencia, Torres’ pace and trickery on the right flank has seen him make significant contributions for his side going forward.

Sergio Gomez - Possessing a lethal left foot, Barcelona starlet Sergio Gomez can go past defenders, put pin-point crosses into the box as well as finish off chances. His movement and positioning have been key to helping the team unlock defences.

First Published: Oct 28, 2017 13:26 IST