Giants and history-makers eye last four
The first day of quarter-finals at the FIFA U-17 World Cup UAE 2013 is set to serve up two showdowns charged with vastly different emotions. Topping the bill is an eye-catching tie between Brazil and Mexico, as the defending champion Mexicans look to continue their bid to match Brazil's tally of three world titles.
In the other match, both Honduras and Sweden will be anxious to prolong their fairytale campaigns, with the victors guaranteed an historic first ever berth in the last four.
1 November – quarter-finals
Honduras-Sweden (Al Ain, Khalifa Bin Zayed Stadium, 17.00)
Brazil-Mexico (Dubai, Sheikh Rashid Stadium, 20.00)
Brazil will have to cope without two key players due to suspension, Gustavo missing their last-eight tie along with Boschilia, the tournament's leading scorer on six goals. Honduras' Alberth Elis is also sidelined, having picked up his second booking of the finals against Uzbekistan.
Match of the day
Given that they have won the title five times between them, this much-anticipated meeting between Brazil and Mexico would have made for a worthy final. The Brazilians boast three crowns to Mexico's two, but their most recent triumph came ten years ago, whereas their upcoming opponents won the previous edition in 2011 and defeated A Seleção in the 2005 showpiece.
Friday's showdown will be the fourth time they have crossed paths at this level, in fact. Brazil won the first contest 2-0 at the inaugural U-17 World Cup in China PR, before Mexico gained revenge via that 3-0 success in the Peru 2005 decider and edged a 1-0 victory in the group phase four years later. The result of that encounter in 2009 ultimately cost Brazil a place in the knockout phase, only the second time that has happened in their 14 separate bids.
Judging by the form of both teams, this game could well produce a scintillating spectacle. While Brazil have won all four of their matches so far, Mexico have bounced back in style since kicking off with a heavy loss to Nigeria, stringing together three victories and conceding just one goal. It will be fascinating to see how Mexico's solid rearguard copes under intense examination, their rivals having racked up 18 goals in just four outings.
The other game
Nobody expected Honduras to seal a spot in the last eight. The scenes of joy at the end of their win against Uzbekistan amply demonstrated the magnitude of their achievement, the Central American side having failed to win a single game during their two preceding campaigns in 2007 and 2009. Sweden are currently making their debut, meanwhile, and they showed plenty of potential by progressing from a tough Group F, where they drew with Nigeria before eliminating previously unbeaten Japan in the last 16. Whatever happens, a place in the semi-finals would represent a massive accomplishment for either side, while the losers can return home with their heads held high.
Player to watch
They may be missing Boschilia and Gustavo in midfield, but Brazil still possess the exceptional talents of Nathan in the centre of the park. The youngster has been involved in half of his side's goals so far, scoring four and delivering five assists – more than any other player in the tournament. The chances are therefore high that, even if he is unable to find the net himself, he will conjure up a laser-guided pass for one of his attacking colleagues, a thought that might make for a few sleepless nights in the Mexico camp.
6 –The number of goals rattled in by Swedish forward duo Valmir Berisha and Gustav Engvall out of their team's overall total of nine. So far, the Swedes have yet to lose whenever either of them strike, their sole loss against Mexico coming when neither player could get on the scoresheet. Honduras will need to keep both of them quiet if they hope to continue their adventure.
"Our results until now have been honourable, and to reach the quarter-finals is a historic feat. Our appetite has grown, though, and now we want to go to the final. We'll need to put in a lot of effort to meet that target. We're progressing little by little and the players know they have to give the maximum to continue," Jose Valladares, Honduras coach.