When the draw for the FIFA U-17 World Cup was made, few fixtures, if any, whet supporters' appetites for the biennial festival of football more than England-Brazil. Their senior sides have, of course, contested some memorable FIFA World Cup™ duels over the years, from 'the Final that never was' in Group 3 at Mexico 1970 to their last eight clash at Korea/Japan 2002.
At U-17 level, however, these two giants of the big stage are unacquainted and when they meet for the first time on Friday, it is Brazil who will run out as favourites. This is a circumstance of their emphatic start to the campaign, which has included two straight victories and 13 goals to just one conceded.
However, after a 1-1 draw with Korea DPR in their opener, England underlined their own firepower in their next outing, a comprehensive 5-0 win over New Zealand. This success was indebted to Daniel Welbeck and Victor Moses, who netted doubles apiece to sink the All Whites, and on the eve of their crucial Group B contest, the fledgling forwards speak to FIFA.com about how the tournament has gone for them thus far, their impressive partnership and their imminent encounter with the Seleção.
Joy replaces disappointment
Welbeck was forced to sit out of England's curtain raiser due to injury, which left him determined to make his mark when he took to the Jeju FIFA World Cup Stadium turf on Tuesday. That he did after only three minutes, latching on to a clever reverse pass from Moses to ripple the back of the New Zealand net. The Manchester United man then returned the compliment for Moses minutes later, before they each added a further goal to their tally.
It was a performance that satisfied Welbeck, and left him hopeful that his place in John Peacock's starting XI had been cemented. "I actually came to the tournament injured, so I missed the first game as I still wasn't 100 percent fit. I've fully recovered now and hopefully my two goals against New Zealand will be enough to convince the coach that I will start against Brazil."
"You always want to play the best teams and Brazil are one of the best teams. We've seen clips from their two games and they are very impressive. They're a danger, but if we keep it tight, we're confident that we can get a result against them," he continued.
The No7's run-out on Tuesday also enlightened him to the rigours of the tournament. "Playing in this World Cup has taught me a few lessons already: you have to be clever, ball retention is crucial in these temperatures. It's tough to play, you need a good engine to get through the 90 minutes."
Breaking his FIFA U-17 World Cup duck was something Moses achieved against Korea DPR, although the Asians' last-gasp equaliser left him disappointed. However, that feeling was replaced with one of delight and optimism after England moved on to four points on Tuesday. "It's going well for me," the Crystal Palace prospect enthused. "I scored two against New Zealand, one against Korea DPR, it's a good achievement but I think there's still more to come.
"I think we were brilliant against New Zealand, but we lost the momentum in the second half. At the end of the game it was a little bit sluggish. We should have scored more goals but we did not take our chances. We were a bit disappointed just to score one in the second half. Now we're just looking forward to the Brazil game," he added.
As England look to outgun Brazil and, in the process, claim top spot in the pool, they will be relying on Welbeck and Moses replicating their sparkling form against New Zealand. Their understanding did seem, at times, extrasensory, and this will have surely given the three-time champions' boss Lucho Nizzo food for thought.
"Victor is a great player. I enjoy playing alongside him and learning from him. "I'd like to think that we're learning from each other - and what's it's like to be a partnership," opined Welbeck.
It is a notion shared by his attacking cohort. "Daniel is a good player - I like playing with him," said Moses, before stressing the need to continue working hard. "We are a good side. We just need to keep working hard for each other and score more goals - not just me, the entire team. When you get a chance you have to take it."
While showboating is left strictly for the training ground, there is one party piece that Moses does purely for the audience's benefit. "As for the back-flip, I just do it to entertain the fans!" he smiled.
England followers would dearly love to see the sight of his acrobatic goal celebration in Goyang.