England continued its impressive run in youth tournaments against a Brazil side that could not compete with the ruthless young lions
Heart-breaking for the fans of Brazil in Kolkata when the Samba-boys were defeated by a truly professional England in the semi-final of the FIFA U17 World Cup 2017. For the first time in the history of English football, they reached the final of the U17 tournament and are now favorites to win on October 28.
So what went wrong for Brazil in the semi-final at the Vivekananda Yuva Bharati Krirangan (VYBK) in Kolkata?
1) Tactical errors
The wing-backs stayed too close to their stoppers. That left acres of free space open for the opposition wing-halves to explore, which cost Brazil dearly. Every time there was an attack using the flanks, there was panic in Brazil defence. Against Germany, the coach had to take a special measure in the drinks break to instruct his midfielders stay wide and it worked. They did not do so in the semi-final.
2) Poorly defending low crosses
Three crosses from Callum Hudson-Odoi, Steven Sessegnon and Emile Smith Rowe respectively, did the damage for the “Canarinhos” in the semi-final. All of those crosses were along the ground, not in the air. One of such crosses led to the own goal from Wesley against Spain. Then these three low tantalizing crosses versus England. Surprisingly in the air, the defenders were confident enough not to concede.
3) Conceding early goals
In 5th minute against Spain, 21st minute against Germany and 10th minute versus England – Brazil conceded early goals in all these three matches, making it difficult for any team to come back regularly after those early setbacks, creating unnecessary pressure on the team. Thrice they could equalize, but the fourth time when England took the 2-1 lead in the 39th minute of the semifinal, they succumbed to the pressure.
4) Missed chances
The most significant chance Brazil missed was in the semi-final when they failed to take the lead in the 31st minute. Vitao fired a long ball to find Brenner unmarked in the England defensive third. The forward with three strikes in the tournament failed to keep his shot on target. A costly mistake. If converted, that could have changed the course of the game, like those matches against Spain and Germany.
5) Fatigue and traveling
In the knockout rounds, Brazil had less then a day of rest in each of their matches than their opponents. They played on October 18th against Honduras in Kochi and October 22nd versus Germany. Then they played the semi-final against England on October 25th in Kolkata, but before that, they had to travel to Guwahati on October 23 in the morning and take a return flight on the same day in night. England played their quarter-final on October 21 and got an extra day of extra rest before such a critical tie. But that happens in World Cup tournaments.