Goals, victories and success seem to be pretty much a given for Brazil at this level. A Seleção have been champions at three of the 14 editions of the FIFA U-17 World Cup to date, finishing on the podium on six occasions and having failed to qualify just once: for Japan 1993. Most recently at Mexico 2011, they missed out on the final after a last-four defeat by neighbours Uruguay and were subsequently beaten 4-3 by Germany in the match for third place. In individual terms, two Brazilians have bagged the competition’s adidas Golden Ball – attacking midfielders William and Anderson at China 1995 and Peru 2005 respectively.
A late goal conceded against Paraguay in their last match of the South American U-17 Championship prevented Brazil from lifting the regional crown but, even so, it would be harsh to tag their campaign as disappointing. In fact, Alexandre Gallo’s charges remained unbeaten after a very even six-team final round, finishing level on nine points with eventual winners Argentina and Venezuela but losing out to the pair on goal difference. Curiously, this particular Seleção caught the eye thanks to their defensive solidity rather than flair going forward, and conceded just six goals in nine games.
Gallo has at his disposal a talented group of players, many of whom have been playing together for several years. Indeed, a healthy proportion of this squad were part of the Verde e Amarelo crop crowned South American U-15 champions in 2011. The next challenge for the supremo is to instil a more expansive attacking game, based around his side’s already solid backline, to really underline their status as potential title contenders – a status that Brazil’s pedigree in this tournament demands.