Brazil hosts from today until November 17th the eighteenth edition of the U-17 World Cup, the only missing title in the display cases of the Spanish Football Federation. Three cities (Brasilia, Vitoria and Goiana) are the venues of this attractive championship that aims to give equal opportunities, as 24 countries participate with a fairly equitable distribution of places: five are for UEFA (Europe), four have AFC (Asia), CAF (Africa), CONCACAF (North America, Central America and the Caribbean) and CONMEBOL (South America) and the remaining two are for OFC (Oceania).
The kick-off will be today with a Brazil-Canada where hosts are clear favorites. They were left at the last minute without one of their stars (Reinier), although they have Talles Maghno (usual holder in Vasco da Gama) and the weight of the story on their side: they are, together with America, those who have played this tournament the most times (16) and the second with the most titles (3). Since it began playing in 1985, only missing in 1993 have been lacking. They have played 83 games and won 53 (67%). With those numbers and playing in front of your audience, it’s impossible to take the favorites sign off.
The other great candidate is Nigeria, the most awarded (5) and the only country with the best winning percentage than Brazil in this tournament: they won 73% of their matches, 46 out of 63.
Behind these two countries looms a platoon of candidates in which Spain is Argentina, France, Holland, Cameroon or Mexico). Lifting this cup has become a real obsession within the Federation, since the fact that it is the only missing title is joined by the disappointment of having lost four finals (in 1991 against Ghana; 2003 against Brazil; 2007 against Nigeria and in the last edition, the 2017 edition, before England). In a list of David Gordo, the coach, hurts the absence of Ansu Fati, although he is excited to see Pedri, footballer who at only 16 years has become a key piece of Las Palmas in Second (10 matches, three goals and three assists this course). The canary is well surrounded: Robert Navarro (Real Sociedad), Pino (Villarreal) or Pablo Moreno (Juventus) are some of the notable names within Spain’s great collection of talent. The demand will be maximum from the start: premiere against Argentina on Monday.
Africa has historically dominated this championship (seven trophies out of 16) and until recently only they could boast of putting representatives together in two finals: Ghana-Nigeria in 1993 and Nigeria-Mali in 2015. That dominance broke Europe in 2017, when he led England and Spain (English victory 5–2) to the final. The best African was Mali (fourth), who received a reality coup in the semi-finals by La Rojita (3-1). At the base of European football, the physical preparation and feeding of the players is increasingly taken care of, something that has managed to reduce the physical superiority that Africans historically used to have in these categories.
Future. This tournament has always been a golden opportunity to start meeting those who will become references within professional football in a few years. The numbers demonstrate this: 17 editions have been played and in this time up to 210 players who played for a minute in the Under-17 World Cup, then also played an absolute World Cup. It highlights the example of Ronaldinho: won the U-17 in 1997 and only five years later, in 2002, he lifted the World Cup with Brazil in Korea and Japan. Other illustrious people such as Buffon, Totti, Del Piero, Xavi, Iniesta, Torres, Figo, Marcelo or Gotze they also went through this attractive tournament…