When England and Spain clash in the FIFA U-17 World Cup final on Saturday, it will be a battle between potential future stars of the English Premier League and Spanish La Liga, the two most watched leagues in India.
From Premier League leaders Manchester City to LA Liga counterparts FC Barcelona, the expected full house at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan will be witness to 17-year olds from these clubs and other top names strutting their stuff on the pitch.
City’s attacking midfielder Phil Foden and Barcelona’s Abel Ruiz, who is also Spain U-17 team’s captain, are prime examples.
Ruiz is Spain’s top scorer with six goals and his double against Mali was the key in securing Spain’s place in the final.
The Barca prodigy is direct in his approach and uses a lot of intelligence to move into scoring areas and also goes behind defences.
As for Foden, City manager Pep Guardiola is his fan for a reason. After breaking out and showcasing his talent for Manchester City on their pre-season tour in America this summer, Foden picked up where he left off for England. He has been the creator-in-chief for the Young Lions playing down the right and is able to use both feet, giving him close control.
Liverpool’s Rhian Brewster is England’s pin-up boy at the moment after netting back-to-back hat-tricks against the US and Brazil in the quarters and semis respectively. The striker seems to be coming of age in this competition with Reds manager Juergen Klopp describing him as “special”.
Real Madrid’s Cesar Gelabert has a vision Barcelona captain Andres Iniesta would love to comment on. One who loves to feed his teammates rather than score himself, Gelabert picked up two assists in the semi-final against Mali and has the wherewithal to uncorkAEngland’s defence which has the rock-like City player Joel Latibeaudiere.
The player hasn’t put a foot wrong in India so far and is calm and assertive on the ball.
He is also athletically gifted and is able to close down and cover space quickly. Good in the air, Spain would have to work hard to get the better of him with crosses into the 18-yard box.
Barcelona’s young left-back Juan Miranda is also one to watch out for with his buccaneering runs down the flanks and crosses into the area.
Valencia’s Ferran Torres, who Real Madrid and Barcelona are reportedly keeping a close eye on, is another future star in the making. Hyped as the new Marco Asensio by the Madrid media, this winger has blinding speed in possession and a sense of ease on the ball.
All in all, it should be a treat for the spectators as well as good study material for the present scouts at the stadium.