Group B of the FIFA U-17 World Cup Nigeria 2009 represents a fascinating mix of footballing philosophies and features four teams with different expectations and beliefs. At first sight the favourites to progress are three-time winners Brazil and 2005 champions Mexico, who are back in the big time after missing out on qualification for Korea 2007. That said, Japan and Switzerland both impressed in their continental championships and have the potential to pull off a shock or two in Nigeria.
South American champions Brazil have appeared in five finals to date, a record that will no doubt earn them plenty of respect from their rivals. One of those finals came at Peru 2005, where A Seleção were comprehensively beaten by Mexico, who should be a force to be reckoned with once more. As for Japan, they have the incentive of atoning for first-rounds exits on their last two appearances in the finals, while the Swiss have nothing to lose on their tournament debut.
The matches (all kick-offs in local time)
Brazil-Japan, 24 October, 19:00
Mexico-Switzerland, 24 October, 16:00
Switzerland-Japan, 27 October, 16:00
Brazil-Mexico, 27 October, 19:00
Japan-Mexico, 30 October, 19:00
Switzerland-Brazil, 30 October, 19:00
How they qualified
Brazil: Winners of the South American U-17 Championship in Chile.
Mexico: Quarter-finalists of the CONCACAF qualifying tournament in Mexico, which was suspended due to the swine flu outbreak.
Japan: Semi-finalists at the AFC Asian U-16 Championship in Uzbekistan.
Switzerland: Semi-finalists at the UEFA U-17 European Championship 2009 in Germany.
Five of the six matches in Group B will be played in Lagos, which was Nigeria's capital until 1991, when it was replaced by Abuja. The city remains the country's financial centre, however, and is home to a great many of its corporations.
Though Nigeria's smallest state, Lagos is its second most densely populated. It has a proud footballing tradition and provided the venue for the final of the FIFA U-20 World Cup in 1999.
The crunch match: Brazil-Mexico
There are more than just three points at stake in this high-profile encounter. Brazil and Mexico are keen rivals at youth level, more so since that memorable meeting in the final at Peru 2005, when Los Aztecas' golden generation surged to an emphatic 3-0 win.
This is the first opportunity the Brazilians have had to avenge that heavy defeat. The Mexicans surprisingly failed to reach the finals two years ago in Korea Republic, where Brazil made a disappointing exit in the round of 16.
Should either side slip up in their opening game, this match will take on even greater significance, and given the recent history between the two sides, there should be no shortage of drama.
The opening gambit
"A lot of people say we're favourites to win the title but that's just the typical game journalists play before any tournament. We don't feel like favourites at all. We give everyone the same amount of respect and it's going to be a tough battle right from the start." Brazil coach Lucho Nizzo