Fresh from reclaiming their continental crown in January in Paraguay, four-time FIFA U-20 World Cup-winners Brazil head to Canada widely tipped for the title.
Not that the favourites' tag has weighed particularly heavily on Brazil in the past. The Verdeamarelos have appeared at no fewer tfhan 14 of the 15 FIFA U-20 World Cups to date, only missing out at Japan 1979, and have finished in the top three on a staggering nine occasions.
Guided by the steady hand of coach Nelson Rodrigues, the Canarinhos showed maturity beyond their years in January's qualifying tournament in Paraguay, recovering from a slow start to come away deserved winners. And while the glare of the media spotlight focused most fiercely on Internacional's 17-year-old striking sensation Alexandre Pato, Brazil had quality running throughout the side. Their success was built on a solid backbone of centre-backs Thiago Heleno and Eliezio and goalkeeper Cassio, a typical flying Brazilian wing-back in Carlinhos and impact players Tcho and Luiz Adriano up front.
Brazil certainly did not have things all their own way at January's Sudamericano. They had to dig deep against Chile in the first group phase, fighting back from 1-0 down to eventually win 4-2, before striking late against both Peru and Paraguay to pick up a 2-1 win and a 1-1 draw respectively. Fast forward to the six-team final phase and consecutive 2-2 draws against both Argentina and Chile set alarm bells ringing in the Auriverde camp. The flames were doused with an emphatic 3-1 win over Uruguay, followed up by a narrow 1-0 success over their Guaraní hosts which guaranteed a place at Canada 2007. With the continental title still not secure, Brazil made sure with a comfortable 2-0 win over defending champions Colombia to finish the tournament unbeaten. Having racked up a total of 20 goals, Rodrigues' boys were also the competition's joint top scorers alongside Chile.
Now 41 years of age, Nelson Rodrigues has made impressive strides since joining the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) back in 2001. Born on 7 June 1965, Rodrigues took his first steps on the coaching ladder as youth boss at Brazilian club side Portuguesa in 1989. Spells at a number of domestic clubs followed, as did a successful period spent in Libyan football, before he caught the CBF's collective eye. Starting out with Brazil's under-15 team, he was given the U-17 reins in 2004. The following year he helped his new charges reclaim the South American title, as well as a runners-up berth at the FIFA U-17 World Championship Peru 2005. These achievements led to his appointment with the U-20 side in 2006, with whom he wrested back the continental title at January 2007's event in Paraguay, in the process earning a place at this year's FIFA U-20 World Cup in Canada.
Alexandre Rodrigues Da Silva, better known as Alexandre Pato, is already making serious waves on the world football scene. A product of the Internacional de Porto Alegre youth set-up, this instinctive forward is skilful, intelligent and good in the air, as he demonstrated to great effect in Paraguay. Born on 2 September 1989, Pato found the net five times at the Sudamericano, including two headers, as the Seleção booked their ticket to Canada 2007. These performances went some way to underlining the level of expectation surrounding a young man who, at just 17 years of age, played an integral role in Inter's FIFA Club World Cup success in December 2006.