ABU DHABI // Alexandre Gallo, the Brazil coach, says he looks forward to a “beautiful game” when the best attacking side in the Fifa Under 17 World Cup competition meet Russia, the team with the best defensive record.
Brazil scored 15 goals in the three matches to top their group, while Russia yielded two to book their place in the last 16 as one of the four best third-placed teams in group play.
“From now on, it is a different format and we are very focused and prepared for this game,” Gallo said ahead of tonight’s game at Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium.
“Russia are playing well and they are very organised team. They have many players in the defensive area and will try to score from the counter-attacks. This style of play will be dangerous for Brazil.”
Brazil have played two of their three group games in Abu Dhabi. They thrashed Slovakia 6-1 and then whipped the hosts UAE by the same score.
“Without any doubt, it is very good for us to be back where we played the first two games,” Gallo said. “We have adapted well on this pitch and the players loved it.
“In Brazil, we always play an attacking game at any age group and any level. I think this will turn out to be a beautiful game when our offensive game will be matched by a team that has conceded only two goals in three games.”
Eduardo, the Brazilian defender, said: “We are ready to face any team, but this match will certainly be the most difficult for us so far in this competition.”
Dimitry Khomukha, the Russia coach, said they will not go quietly against one of the favourites in the championship.
“They are a team above the rest when you see their points and the goals scored,” he said. “We are not playing Brazil by choice, but how we finished the group stage. Obviously, they are one of the clear favourites, but we are not scared of them.
“We will try to play to the best of our abilities. We can’t play a defensive game against a team that play attacking football. We will try to take our chances and score against them.”
In the 8pm game, Mexico meet Italy.
“We are happy to have reached the round of 16, which was our first objective when we arrived here and hopefully we can progress further,” said Raul Gutierrez, the Mexico coach.
“[Italy] have an impressive background when we are talking about football. We expect a tough game, but we are prepared for them.
“Our target is to hold possession for most of the game; we like to play an open game.
“We have improved match by match. We are a team that has scored in every game. We both finished the group stage on six points. So, fingers crossed.”
Daniele Zoratto, the Italy coach, said his players return refreshed both physically and mentally after a two-day break.
“Our preparation has gone well,” he said. “We have had a couple of days to rest some of the tired bodies and minds.
“I believe the key here is not to allow them to hold an advantage. They are very good in their short-passing game, well organised in defence and they have two good strikers. We are ready to tackle them both.”
Uzbekistan reached the quarter-finals in 2011 and are confident of repeating that feat when they take on Honduras in Ras Al Khaimah today.
The Uzbeks only conceded one goal in the group stages, the fewest of any team in the tournament. Coach Dilshod Nuraliev has challenged his side to keep up that form against a Honduras side who had not won an Under 17 World Cup game before this tournament.
“Honduras are a very fine team with quick and skilful players,” Nuraliev told Fifa.com.
“We’ve watched their matches and we’ll watch them again so that we can find out what their strategies are. I want to see the team produce the same kind of performance they came up with in the group phase.”
Nuraliev hopes his defence maintains their superb record, adding: “We go out there with the aim of keeping a clean sheet. We know if we can stop our opponents from scoring, we’ll have a great chance of winning.”
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