Estadio Universitario in Monterrey is the venue for Tuesday’s top-of-the-table clash in Group B at the FIFA U-17 World Cup Mexico 2011. Fresh from their convincing 3-0 win over Argentina, France will be looking for more of the same against a stylish Japanese side that also enjoyed a winning start to the group, beating Jamaica 1-0.
There is certainly a great deal riding on this game, with a place in the Round of 16 awaiting the eventual winner. France had not won in five matches before their group opener, but the ease with which they cruised to victory will have gone some way to silencing their doubters. Indeed, the talented, creative young Bleuets never looked in danger against Argentina. It must be said, however, that the Argentines were nowhere near their best and the French will need to be wary of complacency against Japan.
Hirofumi Yoshitake's side have turned heads with their fast, fluid style of football, and will provide France with a real test. In their opening group match, Japan’s impressive possession play and superior physical presence proved too much for Jamaica. Nonetheless, the coach believes there is still room for improvement, and said his side were “lucky” against the Reggae Boyz. Lucky or not, Japan took the three points and they go into their match against France knowing a win would put them through to the Round of 16.
5 - France’s biggest FIFA U-17 World Cup victory to date was a 5-1 win over Japan in Trinidad and Tobago in 2001. Les Bluets went on to win the title that year.
“We have to stay focused and keep our feet on the ground. We’re on the right track, but we’ve still got a lot of work to do. We need to be patient and persistent if we are to qualify for the next round,” France coach Patrick Gonfalone.