Argentina and Germany aiming to break new ground in the semis of FIFA U17 World Cup

Argentina and Germany the two superhouses will battle it out on Tuesday for a place in the showpiece final of the FIFA U17 World Cup 2023 – and the chance to claim that elusive title.

Argentina and Germany the two superhouses will battle it out on Tuesday for a place in the showpiece final of the FIFA U17 World Cup 2023 – and the chance to claim that elusive title.

Argentina will go into the game fresh from a stunning 3-0 last-eight victory over fierce rivals Brazil and coach Diego Placente insists there is no question of his team losing focus after that famous victory.

“We don’t want to relax now,” he said. “We know what it took to get here with the win against Brazil. It was a revenge match for us (after Brazil beat them in the South American U-17 Championship). We have worked a lot with the boys since then and have improved. We know we can make history. We are proud of what our senior team did to win the World Cup last year and we’ll try to do the same. We are hungry.”

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Germany’s quarter-final win over Spain may not have been as emphatic as La Albiceleste’s derby demolition job, but was just as impressive in its own right. Christian Wuck’s side soaked up pressure against their technically elite opponents – defending with authority and working relentlessly off the ball – before star attacker Paris Brunner struck the decisive blow from the penalty spot midway through the second half.

When asked about his team’s tactical approach ahead of the semi-final, Wuck said: “We know what the strengths of Argentina are, but we also know what our own strengths are. I’m sure both teams will bring something special to the field. I think we need to move away from talking about ball possession (so much). We want to play effective football in Germany – and we want to be the winner at the end.”

Argentina playmaker Claudio Echeverri produced one of the all-time great FIFA U-17 World Cup performances against Brazil, scoring a dazzling hat-trick to further underline his limitless potential.

As well as lauding Echeverri’s game-changing ability, coach Placente was also eager to pay tribute to the No10’s inspirational captaincy qualities.

“Claudio is a really classy player,” he said. “He is constantly improving, and he still needs to learn a lot. He has shown the quality of his play and he’s also very grounded. Ever since he was a young boy, he was always very determined. He is a leader too. He helps everyone, he talks to the group as a leader does, both on and off the pitch. That’s why I have selected him as my captain.”

Germany have prevailed in two titanic battles in the knockout phase so far, with their 1-0 win over Spain preceded by a thrilling 3-2 last-16 triumph against USA.

Coach Wuck led the team to U-17 European Championship glory earlier this year and is “convinced” his players are primed and ready to cap a stunning year with a World Cup triumph. He explained how reconnecting with Germany’s traditional football values has been central to their success.

“With this generation, we are proud of what we have achieved,” he said. “We don’t want to stop here, though. We haven’t had a German (U-17) world champion in the past and we want to be here until the end.

“This team has been very successful. I think this is down to the fact we have come back to our German mentality. In the past, there was a great respect for our football mentality and this is what we want to achieve again. I think we are on the right path. Our young players believe they have the perfect opportunity (to win the World Cup) – and I am convinced they will be able to seize that.”

 (IANS)

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