Mexico will face their toughest task so far in an incredible run as they face the Netherlands in the U17 World Cup semifinals. Mexico has accomplished their pre-tournament goal of reaching the final four but will hope to take an historic opportunity to get to their fourth U17 World Cup final. They’ve won the tournament twice before. Mexico will have the toughest task as they face a Dutch team that was one of the favorites to win the title before the World Cup, and who after a tough start has climbed back to become one of the main candidates to win the title after defeating Nigeria and crushing Paraguay.
Mexico will face the Netherlands for the second time in a U17 World Cup Semifinal. In 2005, Mexico crushed the Dutch with a 4-0 win on their way to their first ever World Cup title. That was the only time the Netherlands had played a U17 World Cup Semifinal prior to Thursday’s match. This time, however, the Dutch will be heavy favorites. They have undergone a total change, from a team in the Group Stages who only got a win and had to rely on other results to qualify, to a team that easily defeated powerhouse Nigeria and totally dominated Paraguay in the quarterfinal. They are a tough and fast team, although Mexico has done a good job of making teams look bad so far in the tournament.
Even past results are tough thing to measure, as Mexico had a hard time getting a scoreless tie against Paraguay, while the Dutch crushed them. On the other hand, Japan crushed the Dutch 3-0 in their World Cup debut but Mexico was able to sit back and handle them in a 2-0 win in the Round of 16.
Interestingly enough, Mexico was able to beat the Dutch in the Netherlands in the last tournament Mexico played prior to the U17 World Cup.
Coach Marco Antonio Ruiz didn’t have much faith from the fans when he said his goal was getting to the Semifinals of the U17 World Cup. Yet after an average Group stage, they got two great wins in which Ruiz was key in the Quarterfinals. They will face another team with an almost equal pattern, in which the Dutch probably had a worse group stage but a better knockout performance than Mexico. Mexico will not be favored, and will need an even better performance that the one they had against Japan, which was the best they’ve shown so far in the tournament. If the knockout stages rounds have shown anything, Ruiz and Mexico shouldn’t be underestimated.
Game: Mexico U17 vs The Netherlands U17
Date: Thursday, November 14th
Time: 2:30 p.m. Eastern, 1:30 p.m. Central, 11:30 a.m. Pacific, 7:30 p.m. UTC
Venue: Estadio Bezerrão (Gama, D.F., Brasil)