Previous winners dominate semi-final line-up

13 Nov 2019
  • Brazil, France and Mexico have all won the competition before

  • Dutch on the brink of first final thanks to in-form Sontje Hansen

  • Both semi-finals to be played at Brasilia's Estadio Bezerrao

After 48 matches, the FIFA U-17 World Cup Brazil 2019™ nears its high point on Thursday, when Brasilia (Gama) hosts the semi-finals. Three of the four teams in action at the Estadio Bezerrao are previous winners of the competition.

In the first of the day’s matches, Mexico take on reigning European champions Netherlands, who have improved as the tournament has gone on, thanks mainly to the brilliance of Sontje Hansen, the tournament’s leading scorer with six goals. Two-time U-17 World Cup winners, in 2005 and 2011, the Mexicans will be feeling confident, having beaten the Oranje 2-1 in a friendly tournament in Europe two months ago, with Bruce El Mesmari scoring both goals.

In the evening game, hosts Brazil will have the support of the crowd against France and their fearsome attack, which has amassed 17 goals in five games. The Brazilians are chasing a fourth world title in the age group to go with their 1997, 1999 and 2003 triumphs. The French, meanwhile, are out to repeat their 2001 success. Leading their challenge is Adil Aouchiche, who has served up six assists to date, more than anyone else at Brazil 2019.

France captain Lucien Agoume is suspended, while Brazil are buoyed by the return of Diego, who sat out the quarter-finals and has scored twice in the tournament so far.

📅 The games

14 November Semi-finals [[flag-mex-xs]] Mexico-Netherlands [[flag-ned-xs]] (Brasilia, 16:30 local time) [[flag-fra-xs]] France-Brazil [[flag-bra-xs]] (Brasilia, 20:00 local time)

GOIANIA, BRAZIL - NOVEMBER 11: Fans of Brazil cheer during the FIFA U-17 Men's World Cup Brazil 2019 match Italy and Brazil at Olimpic Stadium on November 11, 2019 in Goiania, Brazil. (Photo by Bruna Prado - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

📌 What you need to know

  • Mexico have faced the Netherlands on the two occasions they have won the U-17 World Cup. In 2005 they recorded a 4-0 victory over the Oranje in the semis and six years later beat them 3-2 in the group phase.

  • France and Mexico have each conceded only two goals en route to the last four. Along with the already eliminated Japan, they have the stingiest defences in the competition.

BRASILIA, BRAZIL - OCTOBER 26: Pedro Lucas of Brazil struggles for the ball with Damiano Pecile of Canada during the FIFA U-17 Men's World Cup Brazil 2019  group A match between Brazil and Canada at Valmir Campelo Bezerrao Stadium on October 26, 2019 in Brasilia, Brazil. (Photo by Buda Mendes - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

🔎 Players to watch

Pedro Lucas (Brazil, midfielder) The No19 came into the team for the quarter-finals, replacing the injured Talles Magno, and starred in the defeat of Italy, providing assists for Patryck and Peglow.

Kenneth Taylor (Netherlands, midfielder) Taylor caught the eye in the quarter-final win against Paraguay, playing the pinpoint pass that allowed Ki-Jana Hoever to open the scoring. The beating heart of the Dutch midfield, Taylor is also a born leader and a prudent choice as the Netherlands’ captain in Brazil.

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