The extravaganza which is the FIFA U-17 World Cup has reached its penultimate stage as four teams battle it out for a spot in the final.
Three-time champions Brazil lock horns with England for a place in the final in the first match on Wednesday in Kolkata. The Three Lions have a familiarity advantage as they have played all of their three group games and their Round-of-16 match against Japan at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata.
Though England might have a slight edge, Brazil sure will have fond experiences of playing at Kolkata. A record attendance of 66,613 turned up at the Yuba Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata to cheer the Samba boys against the Europeans and that massive support could come handy once again for the South Americans.
The second match will see action from the DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai that will see former runner-ups Spain and Mali clash for the final spot. While La Roja has finished runners-up on three occasions, the last of them in 2007, the Eaglets were the losing finalists at Chile 2015.
Mali played two of their Group stage encounters at the DY Patil when asked whether this familiarity will give an edge to his side, Komla wasn’t coy to admit it. “We have played here before and we know the pitch very well but it’s a World Cup Semi Final match against Spain who are a very good team. But yes we will carry a little advantage.”
Mali has been mostly destructive in attack having scored 15 goals with 43 shots on-target.
Spain, who outclassed Iran comprehensively in the Quarter-Finals are aware of the ‘physical game’ employed by Mali.
“We know that we play against a team who has a very physical game, but we will continue to play like we have been playing throughout the tournament. I don’t think there will be any advantage or disadvantage because of physicality”, Spain U-17 Head Coach Santiago Denia said during the pre-match press conference held at the DY Patil Stadium.
The match between Brazil and England kicks off at 5 pm IST and Spain vs Mali will begin at 8 pm IST.