+So far this year’s instalment of the FIFA U-17 World Cup has been very entertaining. Everything from late deciders in games, beautiful goals and impressive technical ability has been shown so far and we haven’t even made it out of the group stage yet.
In Group A we see Brazil in the lead with a GD of +10 and six points, with Honduras at second place with +1 GD and four points. Slovakia are third with one point - but today the Brazilians will play Honduras, so Slovakia could clinch that second place if they win against the hosts U.A.E. who have a GD of -6 and zero points.
In Group B we see the same situation, with Italy in pole position on +2 GD and six points, Uruguay in second place with four points and +7 in GD, the Ivory Coast in third with one point and -1 in GD and finally New Zealand with zero points and -8 in GD. This group will also be decided today as the Italians face Uruguay. If Ivory Coast win against New Zealand and Italy win against Uruguay, the Italians will be joined by Ivory Coast instead of the Uruguayans.
Group C is much tighter. Morocco are currently top with four points and +2 GD followed by Uzbekistan at four points and +2 GD. These two are currently separated by goals scored (Morocco three, Uzbekistan two). Croatia are in third place with three points and -1 GD. Last but not least is Panama, with zero points and -3 in GD.
In this group there is only one deciding game. On Thursday Morocco will play against Panama and Uzbekistan will play against Croatia. The Uzbekistan – Croatia game will be crucial. The winner will go through. If Morocco lose against Panama and Uzbekistan lose against Croatia, then it will be the GD between Morocco and Uzbekistan that separates them.
Group D will also play their last games on Thursday and the group is as followed: Japan in first place with six points (+3 GD), Tunisia in second place with six points (+2 GD), Russia in third with zero points (-2 GD) and finally Venezuela in fourth also with zero points (-3 GD). This group is already decided and the games on Thursday will only decide who will finish first and second.
In Group E we find one of the favourites for this year’s trophy, Argentina, in first place with four points (+1 GD), Canada in second place with two points (+/- 0 GD), Iran in third place with two points (+/- 0 GD) and finally Austria in fourth with one point and -1 in GD.
This group will play their final games on Friday alongside group F. Argentina will face Canada, whilst Iran will face Austria. When it comes to Argentina, Canada and Iran, their fate lies in their own hands. If any of those teams win, they are through.
For Austria to go through to the next stage of the tournament, they would need to win against Iran, who have dominated both possession and general gameplay, hitting the post several times against both Argentina and Canada, all while Argentina beats Canada. They could also go through if they win and Argentina – Canada draw, depending on how many goals they all score.
The final group, Group F consists of Nigeria in first place with four points (+5 GD), Sweden in second with four points (+3 GD), 2011 U-17 champions Mexico in third place with three points (-3 GD) and Iraq last with zero points and -5 GD.
Nigeria will play against Iraq while Sweden play against Mexico in what will be a crucial game for the outcome of the group. Iraq has no chance of making it to the next stage and Nigeria cannot be eliminated at this stage.
The winner of the Sweden – Mexico game will go through alongside Nigeria. It will be a tight clash - Mexico are slight favourites because of their previous achievements in this competition. Sweden on the other hand, are unbeaten and only need a draw to go through.
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