Battle for passage heats up
© Getty Images

Matchday 7 will see the concluding action from Groups A and B at the FIFA U-17 World Cup UAE 2013. Competition for the remaining Round-of-16 berths is sure to be fierce now that Brazil and Italy have secured their passage from sections A and B respectively.

While Honduras and Slovakia are in the running for the second available spot in Group A, in Group B the race is between Uruguay and Côte d'Ivoire. Hosts UAE are hoping for a first victory at the competition to put them in with a chance of progressing as one of the four best third-place finishers – an aspiration New Zealand also share.

The schedule

Group A

Slovakia-UAE (Abu Dhabi, Mohammad Bin Zayed Stadium, 20:00)
Honduras-Brazil (Ras Al Khaimah, Emirates Stadium, 20:00)

Group B

New Zealand-Cote D’Ivoire (Abu Dhabi, Mohammad Bin Zayed Stadium, 17:00)
Italy-Uruguay (Ras Al Khaimah, Emirates Stadium, 17:00)

Match of the day
The pair met four years ago in the final Group F game at Nigeria 2009, where a scoreless draw saw both sides go through to the Round of 16. Italy are on course for a third straight win and will be looking for their form players to make their mark, most notably goalkeeper Simone Scuffet. The shot-stopper has yet to be beaten at UAE 2013 and it will be fascinating to see how he fares against a rampant Uruguayan attack that has notched eight goals in just two games. Italy have been less prolific up front, with only a goal apiece against Côte d'Ivoire and New Zealand.  

Other highlights
With a brace of 6-1 victories to their name, Brazil will just be hoping to maintain their high standards and cement their position at the top of the table when they come up against Group A’s dark horses, Honduras. For their part, Los Catrachos are gunning to go through to the Round of 16 for the first time in three U-17 World Cup appearances.

Group A’s other fixture sees the hosts take on Slovakia in a must-win encounter for both sides. Though neither have won yet at UAE 2013, all is not lost. For the victors, there will be a slim chance of progressing further in the tournament, but they will have to wait for the results of the other games before they know their fate.

There is a similar situation with the Group B clash between Côte D’Ivoire and New Zealand. The African champions squandered their chance to get a first win against Uruguay, when they conceded an equaliser in the dying seconds, and will be desperate to make amends on Wednesday and possibly prolong their stay in UAE. New Zealand, meanwhile, will be equally determined to break their scoring duck, having played 454 consecutive minutes in U-17 World Cup games without finding the target.

Player to watch
Luca Vido (Italy)

Italy may only have two goals to show from their campaign so far, but they owe both to young AC Milan striker Luca Vido. Vido has come to his team’s rescue twice, against Côte d'Ivoire and New Zealand, with his efforts coming in the first three minutes of the second half on both occasions. When Uruguay’s defenders run out after the half-time break they would be well advised to keep a very close eye on him.

The absentees
Slovakia defender Atila Varga will be the only Group A player missing out today. Varga picked up his second yellow card of the tournament in a thrilling tie against Honduras, when two of his team-mates also received bookings.

The number
– The number of times Brazil have won games by scoring five goals or more at the finals of the U-17 World Cup, a record for this tournament. Against Honduras, Alexandre Gallo’s charges will be looking to add to their tally of 12 goals, one shy of the tournament record at this stage, which they themselves set in 2007 when they routed Korea DPR 7-0 and New Zealand 6-1 in their opening two fixtures. 

The words
“Our players might not be the tallest, but they know how to play football. It doesn’t affect their performance at all. In fact, their amazing skill makes up for the difference in size. Our players are itching to take on Brazil. They want to show what they’re made of and put on a show,” Honduras coach Jose Valladares on the difference in size between his players and those of the other Group A sides.