Tuesday 12 November 2019, 03:27

Aouchiche revelling in the numbers game

  • France outclassed Spain in the quarter-finals at Brazil 2019

  • Adil Aouchiche had a hand in four of his side’s six goals

  • The Bleuets No10 has now served up a tournament-high six assists

The leading scorer in the history of the UEFA Under-17 European Championship with nine goals, the versatile Adil Aouchiche was expected to play the No9 role at the FIFA U-17 World Cup Brazil 2019™, despite having worn the No18 shirt at the continental finals. The Paris Saint-Germain youngster has been performing a different function against the world’s best, however – that of a conventional playmaker sporting the No10 jersey.

“I’m proud to wear the France shirt, whatever the number,” Aouchiche told FIFA.com. “But it feels even more beautiful and more intense with the 10 on my back. I’m trying to do it justice and I’m aware of what it represents. I think of all the great Bleus who’ve worn it and I’m delighted to have inherited it for this competition. It’s my favourite position and number.”

Aouchiche helped France do a number on Spain on Monday, as they romped to a 6-1 win. Les Bleuets’ orchestrator-in-chief maintained his superb form, conjuring up his fifth and sixth assists of the tournament and also scoring his first goal in Brazil in the final minute of the match. And those were just the high notes of his virtuoso performance.

Bleuets not letting up

“A 6-1 win, two assists and a goal: who could ask for more?” he said. “I’m proud of the team and pleased with myself, but this is only a quarter-final and we want to go all the way. All the same, we shouldn’t deny ourselves a little celebration because it’s not every day that you score six against one of the powerhouses of world football. A job well done deserves some reward and we really put a shift in today.”

Though 11 November is a public holiday back home in France, there was no question of Les Bleuets taking a day off in Brazil. And judging by the quality of their corner-kick routines, they put in plenty of work in the lead-up to the game. Three of their six goals came from corners, all of them taken by Aouchiche.

“Yes, it’s something we’ve been working on,” he confirmed. “But it’s also something I love doing. I love taking set-pieces. And taking them is even better when you’ve got people who are strong in the air getting on the end of them.”

France Portraits - FIFA U-17 World Cup Brazil 2019 - Adil Aouchiche poses

Adil’s gift

Aouchiche is clearly one of the game’s givers and it is no surprise to see him topping the list of goal providers at Brazil 2019, just a few months on from top-scoring at the European Championships.

“To all intents and purposes I’m not a goalscorer. Well, just a little bit,” he explained. “As long as my team’s winning, I’m happy to be anything you want me to be. And to be honest, I get just as much of a kick from an assist as I do from scoring.”

Aouchiche has yet to score or provide an assist for PSG’s first team, for the simple reason that he only recently made his debut for them, wearing the No.38 jersey.

“I’m still learning, and when you’re lucky enough to be training alongside some of the best players on the planet, you learn more quickly and you pick up experience,” said the youngster. “And when I drop back down to my age group, especially with France, I try to pass on what I’ve learned. If I can contribute something, then so much the better.”

Grounded, individually gifted, and yet the ultimate team player; with Adil Aouchiche, PSG and Les Bleuets have one lucky number on their hands.