Tag Archives: Felipe Vizeu

Brazil – Top Talents at the 2017 Under-20 South American Youth Championship

The 2017 Under-20 South American Youth Championship took place in Ecuador from 18 January until 11 February. @DarrenSpherical watched all 35 games, writing reports for each encounter that detailed all the significant moments by the most talented players that were spotted. This article focuses on the most notable starlets found in the ranks of Brazil, who progressed in 3rd from Group A but finished 5th in the final group stage (also known as the Hexagonal) and thus will not be going to the Under-20 World Cup. Before browsing below, it may be advisable to have a look at the final standings, results and goalscorers here and/or read the main reference guide published on this website, which features details on dozens of players, with every one of the ten participating nations represented. 

(All photographs are credited to GettyImages)

brazilflag Brazil 

Tournament Summary

In the opening group stage, Brazil may not have emerged head and shoulders above their opponents but they did still manage to advance with a game to spare. However, those with doubts were vindicated in the Hexagonal as they were defeated by Uruguay and held to three draws – the last one against Colombia denying them a place at the Under-20 World Cup. Nevertheless, though Brazil may not have set the tournament alight, overall it can’t be ignored that they finished only one point behind three of the teams who did qualify. Collectively unremarkable maybe, but they are not without talented individuals – though whether they can help revive the reputation of the Seleção on the grandest stage is another matter.

To view highlights as well as read more about how Brazil got on and who stood out in each game, click here

Top Two Talents

richarlison

Richarlison (Attacking-midfielder, No. 18, Fluminense)

Partly due to their unconvincing performances relative to the high standards expected of them rather than an abundance of talent complicating a final decision, there are at least several contenders for Brazil’s most notable individual. Nevertheless, owing as much to his displays as his perceived potential, attacking-midfielder/forward Richarlison has been chosen as their most impressive offence-minded player.

He was a frequent threat, particularly from the left as he showed off some neat footwork to set him free to either play in team-mates or try his luck at the target himself. Though a cold reading of his statistics will state that he only scored twice and assisted once, he did also hit the woodwork a couple of times, come close with at least one effort and provided opportunities for others who perhaps should have done better. Indeed, the lack of cohesion and consistent on-field team-mates possibly also hampered him. Still, excuses aside, with a fine first-time low cross he set up Felipe Vizeu’s goal in the opening 1-0 win against Ecuador. The 3-2 win against Paraguay yielded the first of his goals, as a route one move was headed on for him to slide home; his second came in the penultimate Hexagonal encounter with Argentina when, upon receiving a floated ball, he was able to direct home an effort – at the second bite of the cherry – to give his side an early lead.

During the competition, Ajax reportedly had a considerable bid of approximately €9 million turned down for Richarlison – his club Fluminense supposedly believe he’s worth more. Having already played over 50 professional club games and, just this weekend gone (18 February), returned from the competition to score twice in a 3-0 win, they may well be right.

lyanco

Lyanco (Centre-back, No. 4, São Paulo)

Lyanco Evangelista Silveira Neves Vojnović to give him his full name. Possessing some less common heritage from the Old Continent, this well-built centre-back was actually representing Serbia at Under-19 level less than a year ago and who can say for certain with whom – if anyone – his senior international career will be. Indeed, it’s not too late to revert back to his grandfather’s country but if the Seleção anticipate requiring more help to shore up their defensive line, it may be advisable to soon try nailing this man’s colours to the mast.

It’s debatable, but he didn’t seem to bear any glaring, direct responsibility for the nine goals his side conceded – only six of which occurred when he was on the pitch, two of these being penalties. In Brazil’s Hexagonal stage encounter with Uruguay, their opponents may have scored their winner soon after he was red-carded, but his second yellow was largely due to the strain of having to cover extra ground, what with his side already playing with ten men at that point. In all, he was the most prominent Brazilian defender and deserves credit for his role in his side’s relatively decent defensive record (just one more goal let in than winners Uruguay).

Doing so more often than the average centre-back, he was also notable for coming forward from time to time. Indeed, perhaps his most memorable contribution was a superb diagonal ball to Richarlison to then set up the winner in the opener against Ecuador; he also had the ball in the back of the net against Argentina but this was ruled out.

One of his defensive colleagues, Gabriel (No. 14, Lille), secured a move to Ligue 1 during the tournament but Lyanco’s prospects are anticipated to be grander. Indeed, amongst others, Atlético Madrid are reportedly interested but Juventus appear to be the front-runners for the São Paulo man, who possesses over 20 games of domestic experience.

brazilflag More Brazilian Talents

If Felipe Vizeu (No. 9, Flamengo) lodges a complaint for not being listed as one of this site’s top two Brazilians, his grievances will receive some sympathy from the writer who omitted him and who will also struggle to give him an adequate explanation. Basically, he’s guilty of not being the Second Coming of Pelé – nor Ronaldo or Romário for that matter. Harsh criteria, certainly, but with Brazil’s history and, Neymar aside, less-than-remarkable recent production of goalscorers (compared with those of Argentina, at least), one can not help but be wary.

Being over six feet tall as well as more physical and less versatile in his approach than the aforementioned Barcelona striker and new-kid-on-the-block Gabriel Jesus, he is, in any case, a rather different type of attacker. Perhaps the memory of Fred is just much too fresh and Vizeu is instead precisely the kind of complementary forward figure the senior side could do with. Who knows at this stage, though to give him his due he did have many noteworthy moments in this tournament.

Indeed, he was his side’s top-scorer with four goals. His first was a clinical finish from Richarlison’s cross to win the opening game against Ecuador; his second, a tap-in against Paraguay, was less to write home about but he did also get an assist in this game by heading on a goalkeeper’s clearance for Richarlison’s goal. His third, the last-minute Hexagonal stage winner against Venezuela, was a fantastically powerful 25-yard drive from outside the area that whistled past Wuilker Faríñez; his last, in the following game against Argentina, was a penalty.

With a ratio of one goal in every two games he played, combined with his Flamengo club record of one in three (albeit with his inexperienced legs not lasting the full 90 minutes in nearly half the games), he is certainly one to keep an eye on. Despite some wariness, one would not bet against him gradually making a name for himself, whether that it be in the relatively strong Brasileirão or in a superior league.


For slightly different reasons, one wouldn’t be surprised to receive some mockery from some – probably Dutch – fans of jinking attacker David Neres (No. 11, Ajax) for not naming him as one of Brazil’s top two. However, his omission is not due to a lack of perceived talent but instead because, in terms of goals and assists – zero of the former, one (maybe two at a stretch) of the latter from seven starts and two sub appearances – his contribution wasn’t as substantial as his reported value would lead non-observers to imagine. Indeed, during the tournament he was bought from São Paulo by Ajax for comfortably the highest fee any player in the competition has moved for: €12 million, which could rise to €15 million.

That said, this writer wouldn’t be surprised if he were to become the most prominent Brazilian of the crop as, despite his key statistics, he was often his side’s most eye-catching player. Indeed, in at least a couple of the Group A games, his propensity to dribble and force keepers into parries with strikes from distance often added some much needed urgency, pressure and excitement. His best game was undoubtedly the first Hexagonal stage match against Ecuador, which occurred on the day that it was announced that his move to Ajax would be going through; no doubt emboldened by this, he was impossible to ignore, jinking with the ball, displaying some trickery and coming close with at least four impressive efforts: one of these was parried by the goalkeeper with a team-mate netting the rebound. His official assist came in the following game against Uruguay when, from a central position, he showed some brilliant vision to exquisitely find a colleague in the area, who finished off for the opening goal.

There was, however, one sour note, which came towards the end of the subsequent match against Venezuela when he clearly struck an opponent, causing him to bleed; somehow, he went unpunished for this moment of petulance. One wonders what his new owners made of this. Nevertheless, despite not really playing an integral role for Brazil here, he did display ample raw talent to suggest that, if he adapts to the right system, he could well become a quality top-level player.


The two goals Neres had a role in were both scored by the same man: left-back Guilherme Arana (No. 6, Corinthians). The first against Ecuador was a rebound but the second against Uruguay involved the defender making a fine run into the area before receiving an incisive ball, controlling and finishing off the job. Given that four of his six appearances occurred in the Hexagonal stage it’s not too much of a surprise that was when he first came to attention, not only with his goals but several testing crosses and shots from the flank. Although one perhaps shouldn’t read too much into this he nevertheless appeared solid at the back and, perhaps more so than Lyanco, can’t really be faulted for any of the goals conceded. He currently plays regularly for Corinthians and while he may not be Roberto Carlos, he was nevertheless one of the better left-backs in the competition.


One player who potentially has a big future but who may have gone under the radar a little during this tournament is holding midfielder and captain Caio Henrique (No. 7, Atlético Madrid). Without any particularly successful results, he was often on set-piece duties, but it was more his defensive role for which he was employed. Indeed, he occupied perhaps not the most conspicuous of positions, but he nevertheless carried it off with a certain confidence and class, often appearing to drift back alongside the defenders to clean up as well as start attacks. A year ago, he left Santos without playing a first-team game to sign for Atlético Madrid and has featured once in a Copa Del Rey match in November. He has clearly impressed Diego Simeone as just this Saturday gone (18 February), he was called into a first-team squad for first ever time for the league match with Sporting Gijón, where he watched on from the bench.


Otherwise, one recalls two years ago when Brazil were roundly criticised after scraping through in fourth place but then went on – admittedly with some personnel changes – to finish runners-up at the 2015 Under-20 World Cup. Thus, one can not help but feel that some individuals in this Brazil side may be capable of more than they were able to display during this tournament. The above-mentioned players were the best performers, but if anyone else is to prosper to a notable degree, it may be worth keeping an eye out for the following: right-back Dodô (No. 2, Coritiba), attacker Matheus Sávio (No. 20, Flamengo) and central midfielder Maycon (No. 17, Corinthians). Finally, though he barely did anything of note owing to his solitary start and three brief substitute appearances, Allan (No. 5, Hertha BSC, Germany, on loan from Liverpool, England) has actually made eight Bundesliga appearances this season, so can not be completely discounted.


If you would like to read about the best talents from the other nations, then click on the following links: UruguayEcuador, Venezuela, Argentina, Colombia The Best of the Early Departees (Paraguay, Chile, Bolivia & Peru). All of this information is also contained in this mammoth Reference Guide.  

Darren Spherical

@DarrenSpherical

Colombia 0-0 Brazil (Hexagonal Group Stage, Matchday 5, 2017 Sudamericano Sub-20, 11 February 2017)

The second game which took place on the final Hexagonal Matchday of the 2017 U-20 South American Youth Championship saw Colombia face Brazil, with the latter needing a win to progress to the World Cup. Below are video highlights, a brief summary of the game and, most importantly, @DarrenSpherical‘s armchair talent-spotting… 

hexagonalendddd

(Source: Wikipedia)

Colombia 0-0 Brazil

CONMEBOL U-20 South American Youth Championship 2017, Hexagonal Group Stage, 11 February 2017 (YouTube)

Perhaps it was their fitness levels, perhaps it was their lack of teamwork and/or ability, but whatever it was, Brazil did not have enough of it and thus will not be going to the Under-20 World Cup. With just one point in four games, Colombia – who rested some notable players – appeared to be there for the taking, but Brazil were unable to find a way through and, despite some first-half attempts, seemed almost resigned to their fate from a relatively premature stage. Overall, the closest they came to a goal was a first-half header from Richarlison in space, which was well-blocked by Colombian goalkeeper Luis García. Their opponents may not have offered much going forward but they didn’t need to and thus Brazil will not be attending the tournament that they have won five times in the past.

Talent Spotting

colombia Colombia

With Juan ‘El Cucho’ Hernández (No. 10, América de Cali, on loan from Granada, Spain) and Ever Valencia (No. 13, Atlético Bucaramanga) starting on the bench, it was evident from the start that there was not likely to be many forward forays from the already eliminated side. Instead, it proved to be a rare moment for the defence to shine and frustrate as, with perhaps the exception of one or two chances, they rarely allowed Brazil a good sight of goal. Given that they had already beaten their opponents 1-0 in the first group stage, perhaps more people should have seen this result coming.

The handful of times that they knocked the ball vaguely in the direction of the opposition goal were largely the result of long range shots from the likes of substitute Hernández and a couple from Julián Quiñones (No. 7, Tigres, Mexico). Their best chance came in the 43rd minute when a decent quick-paced move ended with a nudge into the path of Jorge Obregón (No. 19, Unión Magdalena) just inside the area, though his poked effort was easy for the goalkeeper to stop.

That was all that they had to say for themselves. One can not help but feel that their campaign would have turned out quite differently had striker Damir Ceter (two goals in two games) not been injured early on in the tournament, as they undoubtedly have some talented supporting attackers in their squad.

brazilflag Brazil

They needed to win and, though with less intensity than Argentina against Venezuela, they did go for it in the first half, but ultimately came across as a tad toothless. These opportunities were the closest that they came to scoring:

In the 11th minute, Felipe Vizeu (No. 9, Flamengo) burst into the area along the left byline and shot from a tight angle, though this was blocked out by the goalkeeper. Five minutes later, left-back Guilherme Arana (No. 6, Corinthians) put in a wicked cross from his flank which begged for a touch but evaded those in the centre. Not long afterwards in the 21st minute, Richarlison (No. 18, Fluminense) passed the ball towards the dee where Lucas Paqueta (No. 10, Flamengo) struck a shot with intent, though it went at the goalkeeper. The 28th minute yielded Brazil’s best opportunity to score when Dodô (No. 2, Coritiba) crossed in from the right towards the back post where he found Richarlison in space, but his header was well-saved. Seven minutes later, Dodô put in another good ball from his flank and Richarlison again went to attack it but this time a defender narrowly beat him to the ball and headed out. Lastly, Brazil’s final attacking moment of actual note came as early as the 58th minute when, on the left and seemingly set to cross, Arana instead shot, catching the goalkeeper by surprise who had to punch out from virtually underneath his crossbar.

Alas, though it was a somewhat meek departure with a far-from-vintage crop of players, they did ultimately only miss out on qualification by a mere point and do nevertheless possess several individuals one expects to see more of in upcoming years. Whether or not they become regular fixtures of the senior side is another matter, but there has been plenty of evidence over the past 25 days to suggest that, on average, their players may enjoy more successful club careers than most of the rivals they faced.

The two other games played on the fifth and final Hexagonal Matchday were Argentina vs Venezuela and Ecuador vs Uruguay – talent-spotting articles have also been published for these two encounters. 

Otherwise, to keep track with the careers of these and many other talented South Americans, please follow @DarrenSpherical on Twitter.

Darren Spherical

@DarrenSpherical

Brazil 2-2 Argentina (Hexagonal Group Stage, Matchday 4, 2017 Sudamericano Sub-20, 8 February 2017)

The third and final game which took place on Hexagonal Matchday 4 of the 2017 U-20 South American Youth Championship saw Brazil face Argentina. Below are video highlights, a brief summary of the game and, most importantly, @DarrenSpherical‘s armchair talent-spotting… 

hexagonal8217

(Source: Wikipedia)

Brazil 2-2 Argentina

CONMEBOL U-20 South American Youth Championship 2017, Hexagonal Group Stage, 8 February 2017 (YouTube)

With less than ten seconds left of stoppage-time, Argentina equalised to keep their hopes of World Cup qualification alive, but this draw nevertheless leaves them with only an outside possibility of gaining the fourth and final spot for South Korea 2017. They went behind after 10 minutes when Richarlison controlled a long ball in the area and, at the second bite of the cherry, directed a shot into the back of the net. Argentina were on level terms in the 26th minute when a corner was knocked into the path of Brian Mansilla, who instinctively found the back of the net. In the second half, Brazil won a penalty which, after some delay, Felipe Vizeu converted in the 66th minute. However, with elimination seeming on the cards, Los Pibes slightly stepped up their game though still looked like they were doomed until the 95th minute when Tomás Conechny knocked in a cross that Lautaro Martínez nodded home. Thus, Brazil, with five points, will have to wait and hope that they can see off Colombia on Saturday before confirming their qualification, though this is nevertheless a superior position to be in than Argentina, who will have to beat Venezuela and, most likely, hope other results (such as a Colombian win/draw) go their way.

Talent Spotting

brazilflag Brazil

It was not really a game in which any individual talent repeatedly stood out, so what follows instead is a list of key opportunities, including the goals. Some players may not have had more than one moment of note, but avid watchers of this tournament will know that this is far from the first time that certain individuals have created a good chance or scored. What’s that cliché about how ‘you don’t notice him all match and then he goes and does something like that…’?

Brazil’s opening goal came in the 10th minute when a sublime pinpoint ball was played forward from the centre-circle by Maycon (No. 17, Corinthians) who found Richarlison (No. 18, Fluminense); at the second attempt whilst down on the turf, the latter was able to guide the ball low into the corner to make it 1-0 and gain his second goal of the tournament. Eight minutes later, Matheus Sávio (No. 20, Flamengo) curled in a free-kick from the left with his right that Léo Santos (No. 15, Corinthians) headed onto the crossbar; subsequently, another ball was put in from the right which Santos headed on and Lyanco (No. 4, São Paulo) knocked into the back of the net, but alas, the flag had been raised. In the 39th minute, Richarlison twist-and-turned on the left just outside the area before hitting a right-footed effort wide of the mark. Then, three minutes later, Richarlison returned a pass to Guilherme Arana (No. 6, Corinthians) who bombed into the area by the left byline before putting in a dangerous low cross, though nobody could connect with it.

Into the second half, left-back Arana – who has two goals in this tournament – came forward into the area again in the 56th minute, though his well-hit shot went just wide of the far post. However, despite not really putting their opponents under too much pressure, Brazil were granted an opportunity to regain their lead in the 66th minute; following a tug in the area, Felipe Vizeu (No. 9, Flamengo) stepped up to convert a penalty to make it 2-1 and gain his fourth goal of the competition.

Otherwise, Brazil didn’t create a great deal else and while they largely dealt with the relatively mild Argentine pressure, they ultimately fell short. Nevertheless, win on Saturday against Colombia – who may be bottom but did actually beat Brazil in the first stage – or at least match Argentina’s result and they will be through.

argentinaflag Argentina

As with Brazil, there certainly wasn’t anyone running the show for Argentina, though those involved with the goals were nevertheless some of their best players of the tournament. Thus, what follows are details on their best opportunities, including the two that they put away.

In the 16th minute, Juan Foyth (No. 13, Estudiantes de La Plata) hit a strike with his left boot from 25 yards, which the goalkeeper had to parry before gathering, though in truth it wasn’t too challenging. Nine minutes later, Brian Mansilla (No. 11, Racing Club) created a better opportunity when he got past a player on the right before poking in a ball with the outside of his left boot, which a Brazilian defender deflected just over his own bar. Then, from the subsequent corner taken by Lucas Rodríguez (No. 7, Estudiantes de La Plata), Cristian Romero (No. 2, Belgrano) headed it on and Mansilla stuck out his leg to knock the ball home to make it 1-1. In the 32nd minute, Tomás Belmonte (No. 17, Lanús) picked up a ball on the edge of the area before firing over on the turn and three minutes later from long range, Mansilla whacked an effort that went wide but caused a minor scare. However, a far more substantial chance came in the 43rd minute when Rodríguez raced up the right in space and crossed it for Mansilla; it seemed like a textbook breakaway goal was about to be scored but alas, his volley went marginally wide of the post.

Into the second half, Argentina really looked like they were heading out after going 2-1 down, creating hardly anything until the 72nd minute. Indeed, at this point, substitute Tomás Conechny (No. 20, San Lorenzo) received a chipped ball from fellow substitute Ezequiel Barco (No. 10, Independiente) though his shot from the left of the area was blocked for a corner, which Conechny himself crossed over everyone to the other side. 11 minutes later, Milton Valenzuela (No. 3, Newell’s Old Boys) looked like he was about to put in a cross from the left edge of the area though his ball, probably unintentionally, instead went just over, hitting the roof of the net. Then a couple of minutes later, the other substitute Ramón Mierez (No. 22, Tigre) was on the receiving end of two knock-ons from corners but couldn’t get a good connection on either.

However, in the 95th minute, not long after Conechny sliced a shot and all seemed lost, the same man was able to put in a fine left-footed cross from the left which found the head of Lautaro Martínez (No. 9, Racing Club) who headed home his third tournament goal to ensure his country fights to the last day.

However, even if they beat Venezuela, the odds, other matches and their goal difference are all very much stacked against them. If they make it to South Korea in May, they’ll need to either admonish a savage beating and/or hope at least one of the other games very much goes their way – frankly, whilst they can not be counted out, one does not fancy their chances.

The two other games played on Hexagonal Matchday 4 were Ecuador vs Colombia and Uruguay vs Venezuela – talent-spotting articles have also been published for these matches.

Otherwise, the fifth and final Matchday of the Hexagonal will be on 11 February 2017 and the games shall be Argentina vs Venezuela, Colombia vs Brazil and Ecuador vs Uruguay – expect to see one last bout of talent-spotting from these encounters on Hispanospherical.com. 

To keep up-to-date with the latest from Ecuador 2017, please follow @DarrenSpherical on Twitter.

Darren Spherical

@DarrenSpherical

Brazil 1-0 Venezuela (Hexagonal Group Stage, Matchday 3, 2017 Sudamericano Sub-20, 5 February 2017)

The first game which took place on Hexagonal Matchday 3 of the 2017 U-20 South American Youth Championship saw Brazil play Venezuela. Below are video highlights, a brief summary of the game and, most importantly, @DarrenSpherical‘s armchair talent-spotting… 

group5217

(Source: Wikipedia)

Brazil 1-0 Venezuela

CONMEBOL U-20 South American Youth Championship 2017, Hexagonal Group Stage, 5 February 2017 (YouTube)

A game that was heading towards a 0-0 draw was enlivened by a last-minute golazo and some subsequent, contentious events. Indeed, it was a somewhat lethargic game of few chances, with the closest to a goal in the first half being Brazil’s Richarlison heading a 19th-minute corner onto the crossbar. In the second period, it was Venezuela’s turn to hit the woodwork, as Yangel Herrera struck a low 30-yard effort in the 68th minute against the post. However, with a goalless draw long seeming likely, Felipe Vizeu had other ideas as he picked up the ball and then thunderously struck home into the top corner from 25 yards out. It was a great goal, though some claim there was a foul in the build-up and not long afterwards, tempers began to flare. Indeed, Brazil’s David Neres clearly punched Josua Mejías, though this went unpunished with instead Venezuela’s Heber García soon receiving his marching orders. After the final whistle, presumably for his protestations, left-back Eduin Quero was also given a red card and manager Rafael Dudamel was seen fuming, as the match officials required protection from the heavily-shielded police.

Talent Spotting

brazilflag Brazil

Felipe Vizeu (No. 9, Flamengo) won Brazil the game with an 89th-minute golazo. Centrally, he gained space from Herrera (by illegal means, according to Tim Vickery) before lashing the ball into the top corner from 25 yards. Previously in the 80th minute, Vizeu had managed to squeeze in a low shot that was comfortably saved and in the 55th minute, he chased a good through-ball from the inside-left, though the goalkeeper got out just about in time to clear.

The person who came close to playing him in here was Richarlison (No. 18, Fluminense), who had Brazil’s best other chance, heading the 19th-minute corner of Matheus Sávio (No. 20, Flamengo) straight against the bar.

Otherwise, the game was hardly choc-a-bloc with chances, with the best other two opportunities Brazil could muster barely worthy of a mention: After 23 minutes, a left-sided cross found Gabriel (No. 14, Lille, France) but his header went hopelessly wide and in the 65th minute, a free-kick from Maycon (No. 17, Corinthians) went over the wall but also safely into the goalkeeper’s hands.

Lastly, David Neres (No. 11, Ajax) was less of a jinking, attacking threat in this game, with his most memorable contribution instead being a late punch that gave Josua Mejías a nosebleed. This went unpunished, with Venezuelans instead soon getting in trouble with the referee, though one wonders what Neres’ new owners Ajax made of this behaviour from their €15 million acquisition.

venezuelaflag Venezuela

Venezuela were perhaps also suffering from some mid-Hexagonal fatigue, though their defence maintained their impressive form and they had looked on course for a very useful point that would have bolstered their qualification hopes for the Under-20 World Cup.

Though neither gave vintage performances, Yeferson Soteldo (No. 10, Huachipato, Chile) and Yangel Herrera (No. 8, Manchester City) again showed glimpses of why they are Venezuela’s most highly-rated outfield players. However, as nobody really stood head and shoulders above their team-mates, what follows instead is a list of their team’s best chances:

After five minutes, Soteldo curled in a free-kick from the right that Herrera glanced a header from, though this went straight to the goalkeeper. A couple of minutes later, Soteldo did well on the left to gain some space before sliding a good ball over to the right inside the area; from here, Sergio Córdova (No. 23, Caracas FC) struck a low effort that deflected to the goalkeeper. Seven minutes later, Ronaldo Peña (No. 9, Las Palmas, Spain) impressively beat Gabriel for pace on the right, before rolling the ball to Ronaldo Chacón (No. 11, Caracas FC); from a central position, side-on from the goal, he struck a decent shot, though it was directly at the goalkeeper. Much later in the 68th minute came Venezuela’s best chance when Herrera picked up the ball some 30 yards out and struck a fine, low, right-footed effort that hit the base of the post before rolling across the goalmouth. Lastly, in the fifth minute of stoppage-time, the boys in burgundy had one last throw of the dice when Soteldo’s free-kick was headed out to a central position 30 yards out; from here, right-back Ronald Hernández (No. 20, Zamora FC) struck a low, testing drive with the outside of his right boot which only went about a yard wide.

Alas, they could not find a way through and succumbed to their first defeat of the tournament. As much as they were right to feel aggrieved about some refereeing decisions, one wonders if the looming first loss also caused some tempers to boil and led to the red cards to Heber García (No. 14, Sud América, Uruguay) and Eduin Quero (No. 3, Deportivo Táchira) – not to mention the post-match fury of manager Rafael Dudamel.

The two other games played on Hexagonal Matchday 3 were Uruguay vs Colombia and Ecuador vs Argentina – talent-spotting articles have now been published for both of these matches. 

Otherwise, Matchday 4 of the Hexagonal will be on 8 February 2017 and the games shall be Ecuador vs Colombia, Uruguay vs Venezuela and Brazil vs Argentina – expect to see another bout of talent-spotting from these encounters on Hispanospherical.com. 

To keep up-to-date with the latest from Ecuador 2017, please follow @DarrenSpherical on Twitter.

Darren Spherical

@DarrenSpherical

Day 5 – 2017 Sudamericano Sub-20 (Brazil 3-2 Paraguay & Ecuador 1-1 Chile)

On the fifth day of the 2017 edition of the prestigious U-20 South American Youth Championship, attention turned back to Group A, with Brazil taking on Paraguay and hosts Ecuador facing Chile. Below are video highlights, brief summaries of each game and, most importantly, @DarrenSpherical‘s armchair talent-spotting…

groupa22117

(Source: Wikipedia)

Brazil 3-2 Paraguay

CONMEBOL U-20 South American Youth Championship 2017, Group A, 22 January 2017 (YouTube)

Following on from their Chile stalemate, Brazil made a fairly unremarkable start to this match, but gradually regained some attacking impetus to see off Paraguay in a manner more comfortable than the scoreline suggests. Richarlison had already hit the post before Matheus Sávio put Brazil 1-0 up in the 39th minute with a somewhat fortuitous free-kick that took a wicked deflection. Richarlison doubled the lead in the 57th minute, finishing off a Route One move that was flicked on by Felipe Vizeu from goalkeeper Caíque’s clearance upfield. A couple of minutes later Paraguay were down to ten men and, in the 65th minute, the third goal arrived when  Mattheus Sávio dinked a short ball into the area which Léo Jabá beat the goalkeeper to, allowing Felipe Vizeu a tap-in. Throughout most of the game, Paraguayan fans hadn’t had much to cheer about though, somewhat surprisingly, Jesús Medina did manage to pull two goals back. The first of these in the 80th minute was a well-executed penalty; the second, which came in stoppage-time, was rather easy on the eye, as his left-footed strike dipped into the top corner – though spoil-sports have their duty to point out that it was aided by a deflection.

Talent Spotting

brazilflag Brazil

Enjoying his first minutes of the competition, Matheus Sávio (No. 20, Flamengo) was a regular presence in attacking moves. He could be seen sliding in a team-mate for a decent chance early on and had at least one shot from range before he broke the deadlock; this came via an admittedly fluky, deflected free-kick in the 39th minute that never would have gone in had it not had its path drastically altered. In the second half, he continued to look to make things happen, notably dinking the ball forward that one team-mate squared to another for the third goal. Felipe Vizeu (No. 9, Flamengo) was the man who finished this move off; he doubled his tally for the tournament and he had earlier also been credited with an assist for nodding on the upfield clearance of goalkeeper Caíque (No. 23, Vitória), which led to the second goal in the 57th minute.

This, in turn, was finished off by Richarlison (No. 18, Fluminense), another player who has stood out in the tournament. Earlier in the 12th minute, he was played in on the left side of the area by Matheus Sávio and struck the post with a low drive. Later on in the 28th minute, he nearly got an assist to his name when, from the left byline, he made some space to put in a well-directed cross with his right boot which glided straight to the back post to the feet of a team-mate.

However, Léo Jabá (No. 19, Corinthians) could only strike directly at the goalkeeper when a goal seemed quite likely. Nevertheless, although he previously had one substitute appearance to his name, like Matheus Sávio, Léo Jabá was also making his first start of the competition. Similarly difficult to ignore, he was particularly involved in the second half, striking across goal just a yard or so wide in the 51st minute. Most notably, he gained a well-earned assist in the 65th minute when he beat the goalkeeper to Matheus Sávio’s pass and simply slid it to Felipe Vizeu to make it 3-0. Later on, he had at least a couple more shots of his own, the most notable coming from a rebound in the 76th minute. Here, David Neres (No. 11, São Paulo) again displayed his capacity for fierce strikes, with his left-footed effort from the edge of the area causing the goalkeeper a fright, though he nevertheless parried. Léo Jabá then picked up the ball from a tight angle, managing to get in a shot that rolled across the goalmouth and narrowly wide.

paraguay Paraguay

Paraguay had much less to say for themselves and, based on the evidence so far, are not looking likely to progress to the final stage. Nevertheless, though it seemed like they could be on the receiving end of a tonking when they were 3-0 down and a man short owing to the stupidity of supposed talent Julio Villalba (No. 7, Cerro Porteño, on loan from Borussia Monchengladbach, Germany), an indisputable stand-out performer did ultimately emerge.

Jesús Medina (No. 11, Libertad) was their most creative player, even if the pickings were slim for much of the game. In the first half, he never got close to the opposition goal himself but put in a few balls, most notably a low one that went over to a compatriot on the right edge of the area, who hit a seemingly tame shot. Perhaps it was the bounce, but Caíque spilled this to striker Sebastián Ferreira (No. 19, Olimpia) at a tight angle and had it not been for the goalkeeper’s trailing leg, the Paraguayan striker would have had his second goal of the competition; instead the ball trickled wide for a corner. Alas, it was when the clock was against his team that Medina really made his mark. His first goal was an expertly taken penalty in the 80th minute; his second, in stoppage-time, was an eye-catching left-footed strike into the top corner hit from the right side of the area, though it did appear to get a flick off a defender to aid its loop over Caíque.

Though one’s eyes may have been playing tricks again, Paraguay did have one other chance of note to score that did not actually involve Medina. This came from the corner that followed Ferreira’s close-range shot in the first half; from the left, Blás Riveros (No. 4, Basel, Switzerland) crossed in to the dead centre, but though Jorge Morel (No. 8, Guaraní) rose in space, his header was well off-target. Nevertheless, this re-affirmed that Europe-based left-back Riveros, who also set up Ferreira’s goal against Colombia, is a creative threat.

Ecuador 1-1 Chile

CONMEBOL U-20 South American Youth Championship 2017, Group A, 22 January 2017 (YouTube)

Hosts Ecuador came into this off the back of an exhilarating 4-3 win, yet though they took the lead here and could have been two-up, they let their opponents more into the game in the second half and succumbed to a draw. Indeed, after surviving an early scare, it was Jordan Sierra whose persistent hustling saw him enter the area and strike in low off the far post for the 7th-minute opener; later in the 39th minute, his side should have had a second but Joao Rojas’ clinical shot was incorrectly ruled to be offside. Chile missed a glaring chance to be level in the 61st minute, but just under twenty minutes later, they were able to restore parity. Indeed, in a tale of two Sierras, substitute José Luis was on hand to meet a fine cross with an adept low volley to square things up. Ecuador rallied towards the end but the score remained 1-1; thus, the hosts may rue an opportunity missed and though Chile had two head-in-hands moments of their own, one suspects that they will be more pleased with the point.

Talent Spotting

ecuadorflag Ecuador

A lot of praise should be rightfully reserved for the manner in which the first goal was scored by Jordan Sierra (No. 15, Delfin). Following a poor goalkeeping clearance, a team-mate pounced on a defender who could only run into the trouble embodied by Sierra. The Ajax-target then showed great tenacity and desire to hold off and evade the challenges of two defenders before, somewhat surprisingly, sneaking in a shot that trickled off the far post and in. Otherwise, he was involved in other attacks, including a minor role in the offside goal by mere virtue of playing in the initial free-kick; more generally, it was good to see other sides to his game as in previous matches his most notable contributions had been some long-range efforts. Here, however, not only did he get a goal but he almost came close to winning the game late on when, following some Chilean attempts to repel Ecuadorian pressure, the ball fell to him on the dee; with one touch, he made space for himself in the area and struck a swerving half-volley that went barely a yard wide of the far post.

The man who charged at the left-back to facilitate the start of Sierra’s drive for his goal was Joao Rojas (No. 17, Emelec); this was the third successive Ecuador game in which he made some notable contributions and really should have had a goal in the 39th minute. Indeed,  following Sierra’s free-kick, there was a bit of to-and-fro on the edge of the area before the ball fell in space to Rojas, who struck a low right-footed shot into the corner. Replays clearly show him to be onside but the flag nevertheless went up.

Pervis Estupiñán (No. 6, Granada, Spain) caught the eye again, though not always for the right reasons. Indeed, after his goalscoring game against Colombia it was noted here that he may be better off further up the flank; for this argument, this game provided more evidence. Chile had two attempts – one in the 5th minute that was saved against the post, the other being their equaliser – where crosses came in from their left to unmarked players hovering around the right of the central area. One could be wrong and it may be a flaw in the defensive system, but as Estupiñán is nominally a left-back and, more to the point, the man who was closest to the attacker in both cases, one suspects that he was culpable for not dealing with the trouble. Nevertheless, true to form, up the other end he sought to cause problems. Indeed, in the 38th minute, his compatriot Washington Corozo (No. 7, Independiente Del Valle) went on an impressive run, where he sped Bolt-like past a defender and then engaged in a spot of Ricky Villa-esque zig-zag dribbling before getting dispossessed; however, the ball fell to Estupiñán who struck with his trusty left boot, forcing the goalkeeper to instinctively tip over for a corner. More significantly, later on in the 90th minute just before Sierra had his last-gasp chance, Estupiñán came bustling into the area on the left, before turning the ball over to his – presumably weaker – right boot; yet, despite the crowd anticipating with bated breath a winner, his shot went a couple of yards wide of the near post.

chileflag Chile

Though at half-time it looked as if Chile could end up getting comfortably dispatched, they did grow into the game; yet, had they taken an early golden opportunity, the complexion of the match could have been quite different. Indeed, there had not really been much for La Rojita fans to get excited about, with their situation compounded by the surprising – to these eyes, at least – substitution of one of their potential threats, Carlos Lobos (No. 21, Universidad Católica).

However, their defence appears to be stronger than their attack, so they may have relished the opportunity to sit back and play on the counter had Ignacio Jara (No. 15, Cobreloa) scored after 5 minutes. Indeed, a fine ball from the left was played over to him in space at the back post; he met it with a diving header that he knocked downwards and which then bounced up but, unfortunately for him, it was too close to goalkeeper José Cevallos, who impressively palmed it onto the post. Jara was a little unfortunate here but he did ultimately compensate for this later on in the 80th minute as it was his perfect cross from the left that substitute José Luis Sierra (No. 22, Unión Española) coolly volleyed home. Regarding the Roja Sierra, he also has a relative who played professionally for his country: his father, also called José Luis Sierra, who played over 50 times for Chile, mostly in the 1990s.

Before this equaliser went in, the boys in red had been getting forward a little more in the second half and had already squandered a gilt-edged opportunity. This came about in the 61st minute following a fine right-sided cross from Raimundo Rebolledo (No. 2, Universidad Católica) which found Lobos’ replacement, Yerko Leiva (No. 6, Universidad de Chile), in clear space, one-on-one, eight yards out. However, he must have anticipated the ball’s flight incorrectly, as he embarrassingly sliced his low volley high and wide of the target.

To keep up-to-date with the latest from Ecuador 2017, please follow @DarrenSpherical on Twitter. The next games will be Peru vs Venezuela and Argentina vs Bolivia from Group B – expect to see another bout of talent-spotting from these encounters on Hispanospherical.com. 

Darren Spherical

@DarrenSpherical

Day 3 – 2017 Sudamericano Sub-20 (Brazil 0-0 Chile & Ecuador 4-3 Colombia)

On the third day of the 2017 edition of the prestigious U-20 South American Youth Championship, attention turned back to Group A, with Brazil taking on Chile and hosts Ecuador facing Colombia. Below are video highlights, brief summaries of each game and, most importantly, @DarrenSpherical‘s armchair talent-spotting…

groupa20117

(Source: Wikipedia)

Brazil 0-0 Chile

CONMEBOL U-20 South American Youth Championship 2017, Group A, 20 January 2017 (YouTube)

An ill-tempered and ugly game with six yellow cards and two reds (including one for a substitute), this was also a match of poor quality, though Chile deserve some praise for holding out for over 60 minutes with ten men. Brazil somewhat fortuitously hit the post towards the end of a very lacklustre first half, yet though they saw more of the ball, ultimately they did not do enough to convince that they deserved a win. La Rojita, whilst largely constrained, created a few chances; it will be interesting to see what they are capable of if they can improve their discipline, though they do find themselves in a rather competitive group.

Talent Spotting

brazilflag Brazil

The performance of David Neres (No. 11, São Paulo) was by no means exceptional but he nevertheless deserves highlighting for exhibiting one particular moment of intent – a quality that was often lacking in his side. In the 62nd minute, seemingly tired of the lethargy of those around him, he rampaged into the area from the right, evading at least two challenges before striking hard with his left boot, forcing a parry. The rebound by his team-mate was also stopped and then knocked off the line, but nevertheless, this was the sort of wake-up call an underperforming side needs; perhaps he can provide the catalyst in future games.

Felipe Vizeu (No. 9, Flamengo) was the forward who unsuccessfully attempted on the stretch to hook in the rebound to Neres’ shot. Earlier on at the end of the first half, he had also instinctively diverted the long-range strike of Caio Henrique (No. 7, Atlético Madrid) onto the post. Otherwise, as with his fellow attacking team-mates such as Lucas Paqueta (No. 10, Flamengo), Richarlison (No. 18, Fluminense) and Douglas Luiz (No. 8, Vasco da Gama), he was often lurking around the area but struggling to cause much discomfort. Lucas Paqueta’s most memorable contribution was a low shot from outside the area which drew a good save, Richarlison’s was a nifty turn before a weak cross, whereas Luiz, despite looking assured on the ball, skied over the bar more than once. All three men were withdrawn well before the final whistle.

A brief word for goalkeeper Caíque (No. 23, Vitória). Though he was mocked for a first-half air-kick (which was mostly likely the fault of the bobbly pitch), he otherwise looked alert, more than once anticipating trouble from long balls early on and rushing out his area to intercept. Though he will face sterner tests in the upcoming days, it can not pass completely without comment that he has so far kept two clean sheets.

chileflag Chile

Playing with ten men for an hour, Chile did not have too many opportunities to show what they can do and so it is more their rearguard that is deserving of praise. Yours truly has to confess that he did not notice one particular defender being conspicuously more integral than any of the others, but two South American football observers singled out certain individuals. Indeed, Victor Grao praised Canada-born left-back Cristián Gutiérrez (No. 4, Colo Colo), while Tom Webber was taken by centre-back Francisco Sierralta (No. 13, Palestino, on loan from Granada, Spain). Although Brazil did not make the most of their one-man advantage and shots did not rain down upon the Chilean goal, goalkeeper Gonzalo Collao (No. 1, Universidad de Chile) nevertheless also certainly played his part in keeping a clean sheet. Indeed, his most impressive moment came in the 62nd minute when he first saved Neres’ strike and then stretched to get a glove on Vizeu’s rebound; the ball subsequently went up in the air and then dipped goalwards but Sierralta was on hand to clear.

From an attacking perspective, though Chile were hindered by the man-disadvantage, they did show a few glimpses of what they can do in the final third. Indeed, the man who received the red card, Jeisson Vargas (No. 10, Estudiantes de La Plata, Argentina, on loan from Bologna, Italy), had actually looked like one of their leading threats, particularly in the fifth minute when he struck a well-hit free-kick from a difficult position on the left that Caíque had to tip over. Ignacio Jara (No. 15, Cobreloa) was another one who had looked lively yet left the field early, in his case substituted off at half time. He was responsible for a 29th-minute curling cross from the right with his left boot that narrowly missed the heads of those who leapt for it and ultimately had to be clawed out for a corner by Caíque, lest it creep past him into the goal. Three minutes later, he created a better opportunity when his dinked ball into the area was headed weakly by a defender, falling kindly to Gabriel Suazo (No. 8, Colo Colo); he instinctively hooked an attempt, though it rose a couple of yards over the bar.

In the second half, forward forays were rare but two of slight interest did occur, with Richard Paredes (No. 9, Palestino) involved in both. The first, after 70 minutes, saw him burst from the halfway line into the left side of the area; it seemed as if Lucas Paqueta may have brought him down but the Chilean was immediately back on his feet and turned with half a sight of goal to hit a rasping, if rather wild, shot which ultimately went well wide of the target. The second chance occurred just three minutes later when he met a long, diagonal ball into the area, though his header was rather tame and caught easily by Caíque.

Overall the match was far from a classic and one wonders what kind of attacking threat Chile will pose with 11 men (including Vargas when he returns from suspension). They did show glimpses of potential and if they take a page out of the book of Carlos Lobos (No. 21, Universidad Católica) – whose 50th-minute strike from the halfway line only went a few yards over the bar – they could turn out to be well worth tuning in for.

 Ecuador 4-3 Colombia

CONMEBOL U-20 South American Youth Championship 2017, Group A, 20 January 2017 (YouTube)

The locals who came early to the Estadio Olímpico de Riobamba were rewarded for their perseverance through the preceding drab affair with this goal-glut in which their compatriots dramatically gained their first win. The match was a very fluid, end-to-end encounter, containing enough action for at least four matches, so let’s stick with the goals for now:

Colombia took the lead after 6 minutes when Damir Ceter spectacularly struck home from just outside the area. Subsequently, the hosts had their chances but it was Jorge Obregón who got the second goal of the game, slotting into an open goal after goalkeeper José Cevallos had denied Ceter. However, shortly afterwards, the comeback began when, in the 41st minute, Pervis Estupiñán was on hand in the area to strike and thus halve the deficit. Just seven minutes after the restart, Ecuador were on level terms after a ball that looped up in the air following a corner came down to be volleyed in with controlled aplomb by Joel Quintero. Four minutes later, the hosts then temporarily achieved the scoreline reversal by going ahead via a Bryan Cabezas spot-kick, following a completely unnecessary foul by goalkeeper Manuel Arias. However, Colombia did not entirely succumb to the forces of fatalism as, in the 74th minute, they were level again when, at the second attempt, substitute Ever Valencia tapped in a wicked low cross at the back post. One would have thought that the two teams would settle for three goals apiece but in the closing minutes Ecuador, buoyed by their substitutes, ramped up their efforts for a winner. They got their reward in the 92nd minute when two of their fresher players combined to nab a memorable victory: Wilter Ayoví crossed in from the inside-right for Jordy Caicedo to head in off the post. Cue bedlam in Riobamba.

Talent Spotting

ecuadorflag Ecuador

Four goals scored but all by different players and not one individual could say they played a strong role in more than one of them. Thus, though it feels that there were many candidates for Man of the Match, not one had a clear claim.

Nevertheless, plenty impressed and one who particularly caught the eye – and not just for his exceptional name – was Pervis Estupiñán (No. 6, Granada, Spain). Nominally a left-back, given his strength and skill on the ball, an advanced position further up the pitch – where he was often found in this match – may prove to be his true calling. Indeed, with his roams, he drew some free-kicks, one of which he took himself early on; this was a good effort, dipping and swerving not too far wide of the past. Deserves credit for starting the fightback in the 41st minute with a strong left-footed strike that was too much for goalkeper Arias. He’s another player at this tournament with international pedigree in the family – his uncle, Jorge Guagua, has over 60 caps for La Tri.

Although he was only on the pitch for about 25 minutes, Wilter Ayoví (No. 8, Independiente Del Valle) played a significant role in leading the charge for the fourth goal. Indeed, he had chances to score, such as in the 77th minute when he struck across goal and came within a whisker of the far post – at least two other shots were either parried out or went narrowly wide.  However, it seemed as if he was going to leave the match a very frustrated – and perhaps slightly haunted – man as, in stoppage-time, he side-footed a cut-back wide of a largely unguarded net. Perhaps the ball came to him too quickly but he nevertheless made up for this barely 30 seconds later when he crossed in for the winning goal.

From the off, his club team-mate Washington Corozo (No. 7, Independiente Del Valle) was also never too far away from the final third. His most significant contribution was the short pass for Estupiñán’s goal, but he could have had another assist had Ayoví converted his cross-goal effort. He was involved in many moves and had a shot on target in the last ten minutes; his best chance was way back in the 7th minute when he latched onto a bouncing forward pass, hooked it over the goalkeeper but, unfortunately for him, also over the bar.

The player who played this ball upfield into Corozo’s stride was Jordan Sierra (No. 15, Delfin), a man who was given a start after coming on as a substitute in Ecuador’s first game. As with that match against Brazil, here he also tried his luck from range, most notably in the 45th minute when, from over 40 yards out, his dipping strike ended up just a yard or two over the bar. Other teams take heed: do not give this man a wide berth.

Otherwise, some quick praise for the following: Joao Rojas (No. 17, Emelec) for again putting in some dangerous set-pieces, most notably the one that caused the confusion which led to the second Ecuador goal, volleyed in with admirable composure by centre-back Joel Quintero (No. 3, Emelec). Bryan Cabezas (No. 10, Atalanta, Italy), for keeping his cool to slot home the penalty for 3-2, as well as continuing from the first match his tendency to be a frequent nuisance to defenders and being able to get into good positions. Herlin Lino (No. 9, Barcelona SC, Ecuador) for robbing a defender and then drawing the – admittedly stupid – foul from goalkeeper Arias to win the penalty, as well as for putting in a fine low cross for Cabezas early on. Lastly, credit to Jordy Caicedo (No. 19, Universidad Católica, Ecuador) for showing great mental character and belief; having been dropped after the first game, he came on as a substitute in the 87th minute and 5 minutes later he got onto the end of Ayoví’s cross to head home for a memorable win.

colombia Colombia

Though their defence and their – possibly ill, if not injured, goalkeeper – did not come out of this with flying colours, some of Colombia’s attack certainly impressed, particularly in the first half.

Damir Ceter (No. 9, Santa Fe), for one, as he repaid some of the faith his manager showed by starting him here, having come on as a goalscoring substitute in their previous match with Paraguay. Indeed, he left many with open mouths when he became the first name on the scoresheet with a fantastic 6th-minute golazo following a knock-down. He could well have scored again when he dispossessed a defender and charged into the area, but ultimately his heavy touch caused him to overrun the ball. However, though the opposition goalkeeper dispossessed Ceter, the ball nevertheless fell to Jorge Obregón (No. 19, Unión Magdalena), who did well to strike into the inviting net to double Colombia’s lead.

Juan ‘El Cucho’ Hernández (No. 10, América de Cali, on loan from Granada, Spain) again showed glimpses of why he’s already been snapped up by a European side noted for their intrepid scouting. He set up Ceter’s goal with his chest and should probably have scored himself in the 13th minute when he was played through, but his shot was too close to the goalkeeper.

Otherwise, brief praise for Kevin Balanta (No. 8, Deportivo Cali), who played Hernández in for his main opportunity, though a second yellow of the tournament means he misses the next game. Also, a simple note to state that whilst it was a great low ball to the back post that found Ever Valencia (No. 13, Atlético Bucaramanga) to make it 3-3, the goalscorer shouldn’t really have needed two bites at the cherry to do so.

To keep up-to-date with the latest from Ecuador 2017, please follow @DarrenSpherical on Twitter. The next games will be Peru vs Bolivia and Argentina vs Uruguay from Group B – expect to see another bout of talent-spotting from these encounters on Hispanospherical.com. 

Darren Spherical

@DarrenSpherical

Day 1 – 2017 Sudamericano Sub-20 (Colombia 1-1 Paraguay & Ecuador 0-1 Brazil)

The opening day of the 2017 edition of the prestigious U-20 South American Youth Championship saw Group A get under way, with Colombia taking on Paraguay and hosts Ecuador facing Brazil. Below are video highlights, brief summaries of each game and, most importantly, @DarrenSpherical‘s armchair talent-spotting… 

groupa18117

(Source: Wikipedia)

Colombia 1-1 Paraguay

CONMEBOL U-20 South American Youth Championship 2017, Group A, 18 January 2017 (YouTube).

Colombia largely dominated the game, more frequently getting into advanced positions and confidently playing the ball around. In each half, they both struck the post as well as squandered a one-on-one chance. However, a surprise was briefly on the cards when Sebastián Ferreira controlled a diagonal ball from Blás Riveros and clinically struck home in the 81st minute. Alas, it wasn’t to be for the Paraguayans, as with barely a minute of regulation time left, a corner somewhat fortuitously fell in the direction of substitute Damir Ceter, who hooked home the equaliser.

Talent Spotting

colombia Colombia

Often throughout the game, Colombia displayed more attacking intent, with their forward players appearing to have a better mutual understanding than those of their counterparts. Particularly impressive was Juan Ramírez (No. 21, Atlético Nacional), who showed some trickery to gain himself some space, as well as often seeking out – and finding – his team-mates with a range of balls. Two passes of note were aimed towards close colleague, No. 10, Juan ‘El Cucho’ Hernández. The first was a 30th-minute cross from a right-sided free-kick that reached Hernández in space at the back post area, though his header tamely went to the goalkeeper; the second was an exquisite 58th-minute long ball from some 45-50 yards out that Hernández stretched to latch onto at the byline, but he could not find anyone with his subsequent low cross. Nevertheless, ‘El Cucho’ was another stand-out attacker who those in-the-know are already aware of. Indeed, this 17-year-old netted an astonishing 20 goals in 33 Colombian second division games last season and has recently been snapped up by Granada who, in turn, have loaned him back to América de Cali in his homeland. Like Ramírez, he linked up well and put in some decent crosses; perhaps his most creative moment came in the 31st minute when he did a fine turn before running up the left to play in a fellow team-mate, who unfortunately mis-controlled. This compatriot, Julián Quiñones (No. 7, Tigres, Mexico), the third of the attackers playing behind the striker, by no means had a bad game but will surely bring more to upcoming encounters.

These three men were often trying to feed in Envigado striker, No. 11 Michael Nike Gómez, a man whose name ensures the minions of Hades that lurk in football marketing and advertising will be greasing their palms whilst begging their master to facilitate his rise in the global game. He sometimes came deep but was more frequently the beneficiary of forward passes, such as one in the 21st minute, which he received in the area but, from a one-on-one position, struck too close to the goalkeeper; the rebound was subsequently deflected wide. The man who played him in, holding midfielder Kevin Balanta (No. 8, Deportivo Cali), had been picked out by some to shine pre-game and he may be worth keeping an eye on in future fixtures. Further back, particularly in the first half, left-back Anderson Arroyo (No. 5, Fortaleza) was an eye-catching presence. Just 17 years old, he reportedly went on trial at Liverpool in July 2016 and here could regularly be seen roaming up his flank and looking to make things happen. Though ultimately he was offside, he almost had the ball in the net after 9 minutes when he bustled up the left and bypassed a defender into the area; his pass into the centre then ricocheted back towards him and he poked a strike against the near post. Perhaps Paraguay made a concerted effort to nullify him after the break as the second half saw slightly more of his colleague on the other side, right-back Leyser Chaverra (No. 15, Universitario Popayán). It was he who crossed in the corner for the late equaliser. Damir Ceter (No. 9, Santa Fe) was the man who nudged in the late goal and he has an impressive goalscoring record at club level, netting 14 times in 25 games last season in the Colombian second-flight for Deportes Quindío. With these statistics, many would have backed him in the 74th minute to convert a clear one-on-one chance, but alas he was denied. Lastly, the man whose deflected ball from his own half was responsible for this opportunity, Eduard Atuesta (No. 20, Independiente Medellín), also picked up a loose ball mere seconds later before firing from 25 yards low against the post.

paraguay Paraguay

Regarding Paraguay, there was far less attacking fluidity and intent on display and while some may feel they deserve a lot of credit defensively, as noted, they were caught out by two clear one-on-one opportunities. Thus, if anyone from the rearguard deserves any praise for withstanding Colombian pressure until very late on, it must be goalkeeper Marino Arzamendia (No. 22, Olimpia). Otherwise, La Albirroja‘s attacks came more from set-pieces and, especially, long balls pumped upfield to be either chased or to exploit gaps in the defence. Cristhian Paredes (No. 6, Club América, Mexico), who with a jinking run on the right in the 16th minute showed a glimpse as to why a top Liga MX side has recently snapped him up, was responsible for one such ball. However, his recipient in the 79th minute, Jesús Medina (No. 11, Libertad), struggled to really take the ball in his stride and quickly lost possession. Nevertheless, Medina, having quietly impressed at the last tournament as a 17-year-old, could well prove to be one his country’s key players this time. He often took on set-piece duties and after 41 minutes lofted in a sublime ball from near the halfway line that found its target but was headed over. However, as we know, one long ball did pay off: Left-back Blás Riveros (No. 4, Basel, Switzerland) chipped a fine diagonal ball into the area; the Colombian defence did seem to stand off striker Sebastián Ferreira (No. 19, Olimpia) a tad, but that should take nothing away from his composed low strike home. Although he went off seemingly with a knock not long afterwards, perhaps we will see more of him as well as more varied attack play from his compatriots in the upcoming Paraguay matches.

Ecuador 0-1 Brazil

CONMEBOL U-20 South American Youth Championship 2017, Group A, 18 January 2017 (YouTube)

In a capacity ground full of optimistic locals, though Brazil had the edge for the most part, the strong and combative hosts of Ecuador never gave up their search for a goal in this rather heated fixture. In the first half both sides missed glaring opportunities: Brazil’s came after 16 minutes when Felipe Vizeu scuffed a cut-back over the gaping goal-frame; this, in turn, was followed by the gilt-edged chance in the 33rd minute afforded to Ecuador’s Bryan Cabezas who, one-on-one barely six yards out, mis-hit a shot wide. Less than 25 seconds after the restart, tensions boiled over and would continue to be at a high temperature, as Ecuador’s William Vargas was given his second yellow for a foul on the edge of the area. The hosts acrobatically escaped going behind soon after but could do nothing about Vizeu’s well-executed finish from a Richarlison cross in the 52nd minute. Although Brazil saw more of the ball from then on and could well have doubled their lead, Ecuador were always in the match and, on home soil, should prove strong opposition for any of their Group A opponents.

Talent Spotting

ecuadorflag Ecuador

As an attacking unit, the hosts Ecuador were rather robust and were not shy about taking the game to their opponents, often tenaciously forcing their way into advanced areas. Possibly their most conspicuous performer in this regard was attacking midfielder Bryan Cabezas (No. 10, Atalanta, Italy). More than once, he outpaced defenders on the flanks before knocking in balls. That said, he was responsible for an embarrassing miss in the 33rd minute when he was suddenly – and fortuitously – presented with a one-on-one chance on the edge of the six-yard-box. Yet, possibly due to a lack of composure or, quite possibly, bobbles on the pitch, he sliced it badly wide. Subsequently, he wasn’t really allowed much time to get his head straight as in the 55th minute, he clashed heads when vying for a lofted ball; when he was asked to come off, presumably due to a potential concussion, he was visibly angry, tearing up and kicking the nearest bottle. He did, however, return to the pitch before being substituted in the 78th minute. The man who put in the cross that led to this incident, as well as knocked in the initial ball from the left for Cabezas’ big chance, was the hosts’ other main threat, Joao Rojas (No. 17, Emelec). He too often sought to beat his man and also looked for Cabezas from set-pieces, with perhaps the most successful one, a free-kick in the 14th minute, finding his man in some space in the area; yet, perhaps in a portent of things to come, the Atalanta man fluffed his lines. Expect to see more of Rojas in future games and he also showed here that he isn’t afraid to shoot, with a 35th-minute effort from outside the area curling, admittedly comfortably, into the goalkeeper’s gloves.

Briefly, two other Ecuador moments of note: Luis Segovia (No. 21, El Nacional) overhead-kicking a deflected Brazil free-kick off the line just after his side had been reduced to ten men. Secondly, the 72nd-minute surprise half-volley of Ajax-linked substitute Jordan Sierra (No. 15, Delfin) from at least 25 yards out that caught most by surprise, though ultimately dipped 2-3 yards wide.

brazilflag Brazil

Though they sometimes were put on the back-foot, Brazil’s defence was often well-organised, with most of the midfielders regularly seen doubling up and standing in close proximity to the back-line. At the other end, Douglas Luiz (No. 8, Vasco da Gama) was occasionally seen skipping about with the ball and often stood over it, due to his role as one of the set-piece takers. It was his free-kick that led to Segovia’s goal-line acrobatics and he also wasn’t far off scoring directly from one when, in the 77th minute, he curled a right-footed effort around the wall, though this was parried wide. Arguably like his chance in the 16th minute, striker Felipe Vizeu (No. 9, Flamengo) was also undoubtedly hard to miss. He at least made amends for this with a very well taken goal in the 52nd minute. Richarlison (No. 18, Fluminense), who caused problems and had a shot from range, was the man responsible for the key pass in both of these moves; the goal itself came from a particularly deft first-time low cross following a soaring long ball from Lyanco (No. 4, São Paulo). As for the glaring miss, Vizeu’s club colleague, midfielder Lucas Paqueta (No. 10, Flamengo), was the one who got the move rolling, playing a sublime, cutting ball from the halfway line towards Richarlison. He often exhibited a certain elegance and poise on the ball and nearly set up a goal at the death when he raced upfield on a counter, before sliding to energetic substitute Giovanny (No. 21, Atlético Paranaense), who struck too close to the goalkeeper.

Lastly, midfielder David Neres (No. 11, São Paulo) often looked like he could cause trouble from the right; he won a fair few free-kicks, some of which were taken by Caio Henrique (No. 7, Atlético Madrid), another potential threat Brazil have at their disposal.

To keep up-to-date with the latest from Ecuador 2017, please follow @DarrenSpherical on Twitter. The next games will be Uruguay vs Venezuela and Argentina vs Peru from Group B – expect to see another bout of talent-spotting from these encounters on Hispanospherical.com. 

Darren Spherical

@DarrenSpherical