Neither Spain nor Nigeria have lost a FIFA U-17 World Cup match in regulation time since 2003, a record that both sides will put to the test when they meet in Lagos on Thursday. Adding a little extra spice to an already intriguing semi-final is the fact that the Spaniards are aiming to exact revenge for their defeat in the final of Korea 2007.
On that occasion the Nigerians edged La Rojita in a penalty shootout, consigning the Europeans to their third defeat in the final. And with the support of a football-mad nation behind them, the tournament hosts firmly believe they can deny the highly motivated Spanish once again.
For many pundits this match could easily be the final. Spain and Nigeria both started the tournament as firm favourites and little has happened over the last three weeks for the experts to change their minds. Gines Melendez's side have impressed with their polished team play and lethal finishing, though they did look vulnerable in the closing stages of a titanic quarter-final tussle with Uruguay.
The Spanish could yet pay for failing to kill off the South Americans in normal time. Fatigued after a nerve-shredding match went all the way to penalties, the Spaniards will be eager to avoid another marathon against the competition hosts. Hampering their chances of success, however, are the absences of captain Marc Muniesa through suspension, and midfielder Eduardo Ramos, who is out of the tournament with a knee injury.
The Golden Eaglets have no such selection problems, having collected just one yellow card so far. They should also be full of running after dispatching Korea Republic in 90 minutes in Monday's quarter-final. With Stanley Okoro, the best passer of the tournament, pulling the strings in midfield and Ramon Azeez and Abdul Ajagun posing a threat with their late runs, the Europeans will need to be more watchful than ever.
5 - The number of times that Nigeria and Spain have reached the semi-finals. The Nigerians have yet to lose one, going on to win the competition three times, while Spain's only last-four reverse came in 1997 against Ghana.
"Two years ago they beat us on penalties in the final and today we've boosted our confidence by beating Uruguay in a shootout. We are convinced we won't be losing for a second time to Nigeria. We are ready to get revenge." Spain coach Gines Melendez
"We didn't have a lot of time to prepare for this tournament but we're getting better with every game. Let's hope it continues that way. We still have some way to go and we'll need to perform even better in the semi-final against Spain and maintain our concentration." Nigeria coach John Obuh