Mexico will take on the imperious Germans in the steamy desert outpost of Torreon in a semi-final that has all the hallmarks of a classic. The prize on offer for the side that can hold their nerve: no less than a place in the final at the Estadio Azteca on 10 July.
Germany-Mexico, Thursday 7 July, Torreon, 18.00 (local time)
Nerves tend to jangle when the last-four stage of an international football tournament rolls around. Just one step away from booking a place in the FIFA U-17 World Cup final at the Estadio Azteca, both Germany and Mexico will need to keep their wits about them.
Mexico arrive at the semi-final round after strolling through their group with a 100-per cent record, then besting familiar foes Panama and eventually outlasting the talented French in the quarter-finals. As cohesive a team as there is at these finals, Raul Gutierrez’s hosts boast the fire-power of top-scorer Carlos ‘Charley’ Fierro, his strike partner Marco Bueno and a whole host of solid attacking options off the bench like winger Giovani Casillas and Marelo Gracia. The team is anchored by captain and sturdy centre-back Antonio Briseno, who will have his work cut out when Germany come calling.
Steffen Freund’s side have scored no fewer than 18 goals in their five games so far, conceding just three. Already tipped by many to win their first FIFA U-17 World Cup here in Mexico, the squad is a study in class through every position. Samed Yesil leads the scoring with five goals in as many matches while midfield creator Emre Can and right-back Mitchell Weiser put in stunning performances in the 3-2 quarter-final win over England. Mexico will surely represent Germany’s sternest test yet as they set their sights on the Azteca.
5 – Both Mexico and Germany have won all of their five games here at the FIFA U-17 World Cup, the only remaining sides to have done so.
“We are looking forward to the game. Playing the hosts in a packed stadium in a World Cup semi-final is something very special. It will be a festival of football,” Germany defender Mitchell Weiser.
“Germany will be a very tough test for us. They are a very strong opponent, but if we play our style, keep the ball and hold things together at the back, there is no reason we can’t beat them,” Mexico captain Antonio Briseno.