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U17 World Cup 2017 Tactical Player Report: England 5-2 Spain

Dan Davis looks at the most impressive players as England’s Young Lions triumphed 5-2 over Spain in this year’s U17 World Cup final.


The final of this year’s under-17’s World Cup was contested by two of the most exciting teams consistently throughout the tournament. Both teams were billed as favourites, and England showed the world exactly what their senior teams are missing, as their pacey, offensive style of play saw them comfortably reach the final. Spain’s more tactical, possession-based play style was a contrast, and the clash of cultures ensured an exciting final.

England’s Young Lions have enjoyed a successful summer of football, with respective triumphs in the Toulon Tournament, Under-19 Championships and the Under-20’s World Cup. However, the U17s couldn’t have started off in worse fashion, as Spain raced into a two goal lead.

A wonderful floated ball into the box fell to Cesar Gelabert, who scuffed his effort towards goal. However, Sergio Gomez was on hand to prod home underneath England’s goalkeeper Curtis Anderson.

The Spaniards looked to seize on their momentum and on the half hour mark struck again. Abel Ruiz and Cesar Gelabert combined, before the latter dinked a ball across the area to Gomez. The Spaniard steadied himself before rifling home an effort into Anderson’s far top corner. However, the Young Lions have made a deserved name for themselves throughout the tournament for their attacking threat, and hauled themselves back into the game on the stroke of half-time.

Steven Sessegnon whipped in an inviting ball for eventual Golden Boot winner and Liverpool youngster, Rhian Brewster, who was on hand to nod into the ground and in.

The second half began with England pressing forward looking for an equaliser, and a magical pass from Phil Foden released Sessegnon down the right hand side who squared it across the box for Morgan Gibbs-White to steer home.

Just after the hour mark, England had registered 20 attempts at goal compared to Spain’s five, and the Young Lions’ dominance finally saw them take the lead. Callum Hudson-Odoi surged away down the touchline before playing in a pin-point cross to the back post, where Phil Foden was on hand to fire home.

A worrying moment from Curtis Anderson at a corner was scrambled away, and England never looked back, as they continued to move through the gears and put the game to bed emphatically.

The Young Lions won a free-kick, which was chipped in by Hudson-Odoi to the back post. The towering England captain, Joel Latibeaudiere, headed the ball back across the box where Marc Guehi was able to prod home and increase the deficit. And in one final flowing move, Hudson-Odoi turned provider once again as he floated a wonderful pass onto the run of Phil Foden, who raced into the box and fired home underneath the Spanish goalkeeper, and saw the Young Lions win the U17 World Cup for the first time.

Here are the standout performers from this terrific triumph from England’s Young Lions.

Phil Foden

Foden is without a doubt one of the brightest talents to have been produced from the Manchester City academy. The Citizen’s world-renowned manager, Pep Guardiola, hasn’t held back in lavishing praise on the English youngster, and his blatant talent shone through in the tournament and helped win him the Golden Ball, after being named the best player in the tournament.

The entertaining final played out differently to how many expected, with Spain being forced into counter-attacks because of England’s dominance in possession. Phil Foden was able to make effective use of his team’s time on the ball, and his incisive runs through the defence and impressive array of passing helped win his country their first U17 World Cup title.

Foden’s first goal demonstrated his tactical awareness in such a fluid England set up. Hudson-Odoi’s wonderful ball to the back post allowed the Manchester City youngster to run onto the pass and fire home with his right foot, but the timing of the run was particularly impressive. His second goal was equally as impressive, as Hudson-Odoi once again supplied him with the pass, which Foden slotted home underneath the sprawling Spanish goalkeeper.

His Golden Ball in the tournament was rightly deserved, and Foden is sure to have a wonderful future ahead of him, whether or not Manchester City give him much-warranted game time.

Callum Hudson-Odoi

The Chelsea youngster has passed under the radar at points throughout the tournament due to the goal scoring exploits of Rhian Brewster and the Golden Ball award for Phil Foden. However, in the final the Young Lion proved his talent to scintillating effect, as his assists sent his country onto the podium to lift the coveted World Cup trophy. His danger down the wings was particularly evident all game, as was his relentless work rate in and out of the channels.

Hudson-Odoi’s first assist was a delightful floated cross to the back post, where Phil Foden was on hand to stab home. However, the cross had pace and direction to it, leaving the Manchester City youngster with the easy take of sending his country 3-2 up. His second assist also freed Foden, as he chipped the ball into the right channel, allowing Foden to race through and drill home his second of the game.

The Young Lions have particularly impressive throughout the tournament with their wing play, and Hudson-Odoi’s electric pace and distribution of the ball have defied his age, signalling a very positive career for the youngster.

Sergio Gomez

Regardless of his country’s defeat at the final hurdle, Sergio Gomez has shown time and time again why he is in Barcelona’s youth academy. Although the player’s contract expires next year, it seems certain that it will be renewed as Gomez proved to the world he can cut in on the biggest stage available at his young age.

His two goals against England proved that, despite his country’s stunted performance, Gomez holds the ability and determination to succeed in a competitive football world.

The first finish was scrappy, after England failed to deal with a cross into the box. As Gelabert failed to convert, Gomez was on hand to prod the ball home underneath Curtis Anderson. However, the second was a finish of beauty. Gelabert once again was the provider, as he picked out Gomez on the edge of the box. The Barcelona talent steadied himself and drilled home an effort past Anderson into the top right hand corner, handing his country a two goal lead.

Despite the final’s end result, Gomez’s footballing intelligence was evident and if he is provided with the time to mature as a striker, and work on his sometimes erratic decision-making, then he is sure to have a bright future leading the line for his country’s youth and senior levels in the future.


Read all our U17 World Cup content here

Dan Davis

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