The opening game in Group F at the FIFA U-17 World Cup Mexico 2011 plunges title candidates Brazil and Denmark in at the deep end, with both sides under the obligation to find their best form in a match that could go a long way to deciding who goes through from the section.
Take a look at the statistics and A Seleção appear clear favourites to claim the three points. No team has recorded more victories in the history of the competition than the three-time champions with 36, spread over 12 finals appearances in which they have amassed 117 points, also a tournament record. In stark contrast, the Danes are about to play their very first match in a FIFA youth tournament.
Stats are no guarantee of success, however, and as Denmark showed with their strong performance at the UEFA Under-17 European Championship, they are dangerous opponents for any team. Among their admirers is Germany coach Steffen Freund, who masterminded their semi-final defeat in the continental qualifying competition but still ranks them as genuine pretenders to the world crown. Pacy and direct, the Scandinavians have the ability to give the gifted South American champions a baptism of fire.
66.6 – The percentage of wins Brazil have recorded in their opening games in FIFA U-17 World Cup finals. In their 12 appearances A Seleção have kicked off with eight wins, two draws and two defeats.
“I don’t believe we are favourites because there are a lot of strong teams here. We are expecting some tough and very competitive games and I hope we can perform and keep our minds focused on winning,” Brazil coach Emerson Avila.
“With the heat here we’ll have to slow things down at times. We won’t be able to play with our usual rhythm and intensity, and we’ll have to adopt a bit of a South American style, taking our time and then picking the pace up when we need to,” Denmark coach Thomas Frank.