Friday, July 08, 2011

The 2011 FIFA Under 17's World Cup Final


This Sunday the 2011 Under 17's World Cup Final takes place between Mexico and Uruguay.

Tournament hosts Mexico dominated Group A, winning all three of their games against North Korea, eventual group runners-up Congo and the Netherlands, scoring eight goals in the process. Next they despatched of Central American rivals Panama 2-0, setting up a quarter-final tie with France which they narrowly edged 2-1.

After their stunning 3-2 victory over Germany in the semi-final the Mexicans now move on to the final of the tournament at the Estadio Azteca on the 10th July, where they will meet Uruguay, who beat Brazil 3-0 in the other semi-final.

One of the biggest stars for the El Tri Under-17 team is striker Carlos Fierro, who plays for Club Deportivo Guadalajara, of the Mexican First Division - the parent club of Chivas USA. He's Mexico's leading scorer with four goals.

Arguably, El Tri's most gifted player has been the young man who flanks Fierro on the left, Giovanni Casillas. He has two goals and his been instrumental in others. Like Fierro, he also plays for Club Deportivo Guadalajara.

Mexican midfielder Julio Gomez is the only player in coach Raul Gutierrez’s squad to have already played in Mexico’s top flight. His last minute winner against Germany - a dazzling overhead kick will go down in the legend and lore of Mexican football and the U-17 World Cup.

Gomez said: "Just thinking about playing in front of a full Estadio Azteca makes me extremely happy, because it means we’ve managed to reach the final." He added, "It’s a reward for all our efforts, but we’re not finished yet. We’ve got one more very tough match against an opponent we know well (Uruguay). They beat us 6-2 in the last friendly we played together, so this could be sweet revenge."

Mexico are a best priced 6/5 with Paddy Power, Betfred and William Hill to win the final in 90 minutes, and 8/11 with Betfred to lift the trophy.

Uruguay coach Fabian Coito’s side booked a place in their first-ever final of a FIFA Under-17 World Cup with a 3-0 win over South American neighbours and arch-rivals Brazil in Guadalajara in Thursday's semi-final.

Uruguay's attacking plans may have worked out perfectly so far, but the foundation for their exploits at Mexico 2011 has been their miserly defence, which has let in just three goals in six games.

In the group stages Uruguay recorded victories over Rwanda and Canada 1-0 and 3-0 respectively, but lost 2-0 to England in their final group game having already qualified for the second stage before they took to the field.
Next up for Uruguay were Congo and the South Americans had to come from a goal behind to edge out the African Congo 2-1 and book their passage into the quarter-finals.

Uruguay secured their place in the semi-final round of the FIFA U-17 World Cup with a comprehensive 2-0 quarter-final win over Asian side Uzbekistan in Monterrey.

Their collective determination and opportunism is a hallmark of Fabian Coito’s spirited side, whose run to Sunday’s showpiece match has been founded on teamwork rather than individual brilliance - teamwork encapsulated by the contribution of squad members such as Guillermo Mendez and San Martin.

Uruguay are a best priced 12/5 with Bet365 to win in 90 minutes and are even money with Betfred to lift the trophy.

Mendez said after his sides thrilling semi-final victory over Germany: "This team always battles hard and gives everything it’s got. And we do that because we know what this jersey means. Now we’re on the way to the final."

One of the most impressive aspects of Uruguay’s relentless advance to Sunday’s showdown with Mexico at the Azteca is that is has been achieved despite a troublesome knee-injury to their star asset Juan Cruz Mascia. Despite his absence from the front line for their quarter-final against Uzbekistan and the semi-final with Brazil, Coito’s charges still managed to rack up five goals, conceding none in the process.

With Mascia sidelined, the attacking burden has been shared. Santiago Charamoni and Rodrigo Aguirre were the men on target against the Uzbeks, while Elbio Alvarez struck from the spot to set 'Los Charrúas' on the road to victory over Brazil.

Mendez concluded: "There’s no such thing as pressure as far as I’m concerned. When I’m out there I try to get on with my job, which is to play football. I don’t pay much attention to what’s going on off the pitch or in the stands."

Given the cacophony of noise that the Mexico fans are sure to serve up at the Azteca on Sunday, that approach looks to be a sensible one.

My Tip of the Weekend:

In what I expect to be be a closely fought affair I fancy Mexico to win the final by the odd goal, particularly as they are playing in front of their own fans. Mexico to win 2-1 is a best priced 8/1 with Paddy Power, Betfred and William Hill, and looks a value bet.
If you think the game will go beyond the 90 minutes, Paddy Power are offering odds of 9/2 on the final being won on a penalty shoot-out.

Sunday 10th July: The 2011 FIFA Under 17's World Cup Final - Uruguay v Mexico, Aztec Stadium, Mexico City, kick-off 00.00 BST, live on British Eurosport 1, ESPNU, Galavision and SBS One Australia.

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