- Final matchday of Brazil 2019 group stage
- Group E: Spain, Argentina share driver’s seat
- Group F: Mexico desperate for big win
The end of the FIFA U-17 World Cup Brazil 2019™ group stage looms with Groups E and F set to contest their final matches on Sunday. Though many Round of 16 spots have already been grabbed, a precious few more exist.
Group E will be settled first, with Cameroon and Spain matching up in Brasilia while Argentina and Tajikistan meet in Vitoria. The Europeans and South Americans have monopolies on the top two spots, boasting more points and positive goal differentials. But a clear path to the last 16 exists for the surprise Asian qualifiers, who boast one win already in Brazil.
Italy and Paraguay have impressed defensively; the Paraguayans have yet to concede while Gli Azzurrini have only once. First place in Group F will be the prize on offer in Brasilia, an honour that might also provide an easier route forward in the knockout phase.
The only way forward for Mexico requires a victory over Solomon Islands – and likely a convincing one to bolster their goal differential. The Pacific Islanders are still seeking their first goal at a U-17 world finals.
📅 The games
Cameroon-Spain (Brasilia/Gama, 17:00 local time)
Argentina-Tajikistan (Vitoria/Cariacica, 17:00 local time)
Italy-Paraguay (Brasilia/Gama, 20:00 local time)
Mexico-Solomon Islands (Vitoria/Cariacica, 20:00 local time)
What you need to know
“Although four points is a good start, the group is very close, so we can’t afford to make any mistakes now. We’re looking forward to the match against Cameroon and want to qualify for the last 16 no matter what.”
Spain centre-back Javi Lopez
Mexico are in danger of exiting the competition in the group stage, which would be the worst finish for El Tri since failing to qualify for Korea Republic 2007. Paraguay, meanwhile, could reach the last 16 for the second straight FIFA U-17 World Cup, a feat La Albirroja have never accomplished.
🔎 Players to watch
Israel Luna (Forward, Mexico)
The Pachuca youth player would have already opened his account in Brazil were it not for the heroics of Italy goalkeeper Marco Molla on Thursday, who denied Luna once from the penalty spot and twice from point-blank range. A date with the struggling Solomon Islands defence could remedy the talented El Tri forward’s goalscoring woes.
Mukhriddin Khasanov (Goalkeeper, Tajikistan)
A key ingredient in Tajikistan’s recipe for success against Cameroon, Khasanov was overwhelmed by a clinical Spain bunch in Thursday’s defeat. If the Asia runners-up are to grind out a result against Albiceleste, they’ll likely have their heroic goalkeeper to thank in large part.
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