Group C had a distinctly Latin flavour and was dominated by Spain who strolled through to the next phase with three victories from three matches. The group games were something of a gentle warm-up for a Spanish side unable to play any pre-tournament friendlies because of club commitments. Meanwhile Chile, who kicked off their FIFA World Youth Championship Netherlands 2005 campaign with an avalanche of goals, only squeezed through to the last sixteen as one of four best third-placed teams.
1. Spain, 9 points.
Inaki Saez had warned beforehand of his team's lack of pre-tournament preparation, but the Furia Roja showed little sign of ring rustiness. At no point were their Group C rivals able to knock the Spanish out of their stride. A comfortable 3-1 win over Morocco was followed by a ruthless 7-0 dismantling of Chile. Enjoying a numerical advantage following the sending off of a Chilean defender, the stylish Spaniards turned the screws with a fluid and effective display.
Spain were clearly the most mature team on show, and seemed to grow into Saez´s well-defined tactical setup as the games progressed. Fernando Llorente played the complete centre-forward's role to perfection, leading the scoring charts after the first phase and thriving off the service of wide men Juanfran, Gavilan and Silva. Arsenal midfielder Cesc Fabregas once again demonstrated his class, moving the ball around effortlessly and deftly orchestrating his team's attacks. "Cesc analyses the team's play. He's the playmaker, the one who instigates the team's forward moves," explained Saez.
2. Morocco, 6 points.
The Moroccan team bounced back from their opening game defeat against the European champions to thrash a weak Honduras side and overcome Chile by a single goal in the fight for second place in the group. Coach Jamal Fathi was an active presence on the sidelines throughout each game, constantly correcting his players´ positional play and attitude, striving to make them play more as a unit and less as a collection of individuals.
The team uses a very rigid 4-4-2 system which plays to the strengths of gifted attackers Nabil El Zhar and Mouhssine Iajour. El Zhar´s bursts of acceleration and killer balls in and around the box combined with Iajour´s predatory instincts proved decisive in the group phase.
3. Chile, 3 points.
Chile hit the ground running with a spectacular 7-0 victory over Honduras which gave no indication of what was to come. In their opening game Chile turned on the style and got their tactics spot on, albeit against a poor rival. Chile then got a taste of their own medicine with a 0-7 defeat at the hands of the Furia, who exacted some measure of revenge on behalf of the Hondurans. After such a crushing blow, their coach was unable to rebuild his team's shattered morale and tactical system in time to face Morocco and they went down to another defeat.
Matias Fernandez directed operations in the centre of the park, taking control of possession and bringing his team mates into play. Fuenzalida and Parada were the great beneficiaries of his measured passing and ability to switch play to the flanks. Edson Riquelme also put in some great displays wide on the right, showing defensive quality as well as astonishing speed on the overlap. They now have another opportunity to redeem themselves with a tough match against the hosts in the last sixteen.
4. Honduras, 0 points.
The catracho team came into the FIFA World Youth Championship in buoyant mood having overcome the mighty Mexicans in the CONCACAF qualifying group. However, a crushing 7-0 defeat by Chile in their first game brought them down to earth with a bang. The blow was to prove fatal to their hopes of qualifying for the last sixteen, and against Morocco their defensive frailties once again came to the fore as they shipped another five goals. Out of the tournament and with only pride at stake, Ruben Guifarro´s charges failed to trouble a weakened Spain side giving a run out to several fringe players.
Their best player Ramon Nunez tried in vain to drag his team back into contention but the lack of a discernible tactical system and glaring lapses in concentration put paid to any hopes of a revival. Honduras were even unable to score from the penalty spot, Nunez's miss against Spain denying them that small consolation. Striker Jose Guity worked hard up front but without reward in a tournament to forget for the Central Americans.