Pachuca’s Estadio Hidalgo provides the setting for Monday’s eagerly awaited quarter-final between France and hosts Mexico. The two tricolor nations drew 2-2 in a warm-up match just before the tournament began and their latest meeting promises to be just as tight.
France-Mexico, Pachuca, Monday 4 July, 18.00 (local time)
Impressive in beating Argentina 3-0 and in coming from two goals down to oust Côte d’Ivoire in the round of 16, France were less inspiring in drawing 1-1 with Japan and then Jamaica in the group phase, although coach Patrick Gonfalone has been shuffling his team around. Les Bleuets threw all their artillery into their dramatic comeback against the Ivorians, and the physical effects of that punishing game could be a factor when they face the host Mexicans. They will also be without suspended forward Lenny Nangis, one of their mainstays so far.
Mexico have been in far more consistent form and have drawn inspiration from the home crowds, sweeping to three wins in the group phase and easing past Panama in the knockout round. The last team to prevent El Tri from winning were their quarter-final opponents in that 2-2 warm-up draw, and though the Mexicans are brimming with confidence, that tight result should give them plenty of food for thought.
1 - The number of times France and Mexico lost en route to winning their one and only FIFA U-17 World Cup titles to date, the Mexicans going down 2-1 to Turkey in the group phase at Peru 2005, and the French losing by the same scoreline to Nigeria at the same stage of Trinidad and Tobago 2001.
“It’s a real honour to be playing Mexico in the quarter-finals. It should be a great game and we’ll be giving all we’ve got. Obviously it’s not going to be easy at all, but there’s no question of this being a grudge game or anything like that,” France coach Patrick Gonfalone.
“We played France already in Veracruz in a recent friendly and they were very good. But I think this will be an even better French side, full of confidence. We just need to keep the ball on the ground, play fast and be patient. I think we can beat them,” Mexico striker Carlos Fierro.