Question time for the masterminds
© FIFA.com

Two men are plotting scripts they hope will thrill their compatriots on Saturday. Ney Franco’s ends with Brazilian hands parading the striking silver, Lapis lazuli-based trophy in Bogota. Ilidio Vale’s concludes in a third FIFA U-20 World Cup title for the Portuguese. As their mouth-watering duel appraoches, FIFA.com put four identical questions to the two coaches.

What kind of final are you anticipating?
Ney Franco (BRA): “It’s going to be a clash between two traditional [football] schools - not only Brazilian against Portuguese, but also South American against European. It’s a duel that has had fantastic games in the past, and I am sure this final won’t be an exception. Portugal are a very strong team and have a coach who has been working on his project for a while. It’s going to be very even and I can say, for sure, that the title will end up in good hands. Whoever wins, Portugal or Brazil, will deserve it. And it’s going to be interesting to see the two different styles: Brazil have shown the best attacking football of the tournament so far, and Portugal have been the best defensive side. It’s going to be a beautiful game.”

Ilidio Vale (POR): “I think it’s going to be very interesting to repeat the final of 20 years ago. [Brazil] are a great side and will be very strong opponents. It’s a final in which there are no favourites. I mean, maybe they are the favourites, because I see Portugal as outsiders in this World Cup. Brazil are the South American champions; Portgual are not continental champions. We only qualified in fifth place [in Europe]. Now we’ve beaten the European champions (France) and we wanted this to turn the tables. So in the final, we hope to do the same as we have done so far, which is to be effective.”

When did you know you were going to be in the final?
Ney Franco (BRA): “We left Brazil very confident, but when it comes to being champions, at that time it was all hope. But if I had to say a moment, it would be the victory over Spain, a great team. I got the feeling the team was ready to produce a great semi-final. And that’s what happened. We knew that, despite the respect we had for Mexico, we had a good chance of reaching this stage.”

Ilidio Vale (POR): “It was the game against Argentina. I think that’s when our players felt that they could reach the decider. We set out with a lot of humility [but] with a lot of conviction, courage. We knew we could compete with any team. We never feared losing and, more importantly, never feared winning. Because previously it seemd we had this fear. We’re much more confident now and hope this final is a big party.”

What will be your final words to your players before the final?
Ney Franco (BRA): “This is a very talented generation [of players] and after the South American [U-20] Championship, two of them were called up by the senior team: Lucas and Neymar. These kids have a huge potential, so I wouldn’t be surprised if there are some more joining soon. But they should know also that the talented generations make history by winning titles. They have the talent, but now they also have the chance to put their names in the history of world football. They should go for it, the time has come.”

Ilidio Vale (POR): “In each game we had a strategy that worked, either in terms of tactics or motivation. There are many different options and we work with them all. But we usually use motivational videos relative to each game and what we want out of it. This has been done for a long time, it’s not new to the world. We have worked together for two years and we always prepare for every aspect, because we’re not always good, strong. And I think we have taken the right decisions so far in terms of getting the most out of the team, out of each player, because all of them are human and they have weaknesses.”

What has been the most enjoyable moment of the tournament for you so far?
Ney Franco (BRA): “Apart from the games, we’ve built a fantastic atmosphere within the squad. Even during the training sessions, you can feel the good atmosphere. But I think the victory over Spain, due the quality of our opponents, was that moment. We celebrated that victory a lot. I think Spain were good enough to reach the final too, that’s why.”

Ilidio Vale (POR): “It was without doubt that game against Argentina, especially the penalty shoot-out, after we missed two of our first three attempts. We managed to summon enermous [mental] strength a continued believing that it was possible to win. It is without doubt the most defining moment of this World Cup.”