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Spain face Brazil in clash between title contenders

Kochi, Oct 6: Traditional football giants Brazil and Spain face-off in a marquee clash in the group stage of the Under-17 FIFA World Cup here on Saturday.
Both are the champions of their respective continents and come with high profile players in their ranks and that makes the Group D clash a classic football encounter between the attacking masters and passing masters at the Jawaharalal Nehru International Stadium here.
Brazil hold the record for most number of games contested (75), most number of wins (47) and most goals (166) in the U-17 World Cups.
They have reached the final an impressive five times in 15 tournament appearances and lifted the trophy on three occasions.
However, Spain are yet to lift the title despite making three final appearances (1991, 2003 and 2007) from eight attempts.
This time, Santi Denia-coached Spain will aim to prove that they are ready to take over the mantle of the hugely successful senior team of recent years.
FC Barcelona academy product Abel Ruiz is one of the biggest names of the tournament. The attacker has a habit of scoring goals and will need support from Pedro Ruiz, Ferran Torres and Cesar Gelebert.
Alfonso Pastor and Marc Vidal are the two goal-keepers.
Barcelona's Eric Garcia, Hugo Guillamón of Valencia, Mateu Morey of Barcelona are some of their key players in defence.
Antonio Blanco, Carlos Beitia, Alvaro Garcia, Jose Lara and Mohamed Moukhlis are Spain's key midfielders.
Spain have scored 97 U-17 World Cup goals so far, according to official tournament website.
The match against Brazil will present a great opportunity to assess their strengths and weaknesses.
Though the Brazilian squad will be without talented striker Vinicius Junior, they still have enough firepower to win the title.
They have the attacking machinery in Brenner, Lincoln, Paulinho, while Gabriel Brazão and Lucas Alexandre are two key goalkeepers.
Among the defenders, Wesley, Weverson, Matheus Stockl, and Vitor Eduardo are expected to start.
The key midfielers are Alanzinho, Marcos Antônio and Rodrigo Nestor.
"It's a match between two great footballing nations, two heavyweights who are both travelling to the tournament as continental champions," Brazilian forward Paulinho said in a release.
"There's no doubt that this game will show both teams where they stand and what their chances are like at this competition. It's the first match and, at the same time, our first final."
In the other match of Group D, North Korea face Niger. IANS