Spain and Syria kick off the second day of action in Group C of the FIFA U-17 World Cup Korea 2007 on Wednesday in an encounter that should go a long way to deciding who moves on to the knockout stages. The Ulsan Complex Stadium provides the venue.
Victory did not come easy for Spain against Honduras, and the Europeans will be put to the test once more by the obdurate Syrians, who stole a point from well-fancied Argentina at the weekend. Three points for Juan Santisteban's side will see them through to the Round of 16, and despite a somewhat patchy outing against the Central Americans, individually and collectively they are a team to be feared.
Facing them will be a Syrian side with anything but an inferiority complex. Tactically disciplined and comfortable in possession, as they showed against Argentina, their only shortcomings are in front of goal.
Syrian defender Ahmmad Kalasi has been ruled out of the rest of the tournament with a serious knee ligament injury. Spain have no such injury worries and will be at full strength for Wednesday's clash.
Syria have never scored against Spain. At the 1955 Mediterranean Games the Spanish prevailed 3-0, with the duo fighting out goalless draws at the Moscow 1980 Olympic Football Tournament and the FIFA World Youth Championship Portugal 1991.
The birthday boy
After missing out against Argentina, Hussam Al Hamawi will be hoping to celebrate his 17th birthday in style by seeing some action against the Spanish.
"The match against Honduras showed that there are no easy games in a World Cup. The fact that Syria managed a draw against Argentina also speaks for itself. We need to improve in one or two areas and play our own game. I just hope it's not as hot, as it makes it hard for us to play our usual way." Bojan Krkic, Spain player.
"We realised against Argentina that we are a match for anyone. Spain play the same kind of football and I expect a similar game. Hopefully we can put the ball in the back of the net this time." Mohammad Abadi, Syria player.