Day two of the U17 World Cup in India saw two of the big beasts of the competition going head-to-head, Brazil and Spain, in challenging weather conditions
Spain couldn’t open their U17 World Cup campaign with a win after they lost against Brazil in a tight game highly impacted by extreme weather conditions with the heat but with plenty of chances for both sides.
The game couldn’t have begun better for the Spanish side. Right-winger Ferran Torres was a beast in the first five minutes: he gave a warning the Brazilian team with an amazing run in the first minute that Abel Ruiz couldn’t finish, and seconds later trounced his defender to cross the ball into the keeper’s box. Moha, perfectly placed and with a little help from Wesley, only had to tap it into the back of the net (0-1)
Spain’s explosive first minutes left the Canarinha quite stunned, but they soon began putting some ‘jogo bonito’ into action and quickly snatched possession from the opposite team. Their midfield kicked into high gear and, slowly but steadily, generated more and more chances to equalize the game. Finally, the 1-1 was seized after a great move on the left, a sneaky cross and an awful clearance by Diego Pampin. The ball was left untouched inside the box and Lincoln’s easy strike meant the game was level once again.
Temperature and humidity started taking its toll: right-winger Mateu Morey had to leave the game and Víctor Gómez came in. Brazil kept pushing while Spain sought to reach half-time with a draw in the scoreboard. However, a masterful pass by Marcos Antonio was followed through by Canarinha star Paulinho, who calmly finished the play in his one-on-one against keeper Álvaro. Brazil had completed their bounce-back just seconds before half-time (2-1).
Fifteen minutes in the locker room changed Spain’s mentality. They charged around the field like a buffalo stampede once the ball began rolling again. Their ambition was much higher than in the first half, and had a couple of good chances that demanded a lot from Brazil’s goalie Gabriel Brazao.
Unfortunately for them, their accuracy was way off and weren’t able to pierce the South American net. Ferran kept trying on the right-hand side and Moha and Abel Ruiz pushed up front, with no luck. Manager Santi Denia looked to keep things fresh with his subs, but even mixing things up was not enough to battle the evening’s biggest enemies: temperature and humidity.
Both teams suffered an unspeakable amount to keep going when their strength was put to the test with 31º Celsius temperatures and 75% humidity during the match. Many players became dizzy or injured, with most subs being forced due to this fact. In such a context, Brazil could’ve finished things off if Marcos Antonio had properly crossed the ball for a Paulinho easy finish. Álvaro, however, guessed his intentions and swiftly neutralized the pass.
Once in injury time, Víctor had a great chance to score but his volley was wide. A cross by Lara was inches away from surprising Brazao, who was able to stretch and clear the danger. An exhausted Spain kept attacking until the end, with no luck. Brazil was able to secure the win in a not very impressive performance that, however, was enough to defeat an insecure Spain, which paid a high price for its lack of ambition in the first half.