Tag Archives: Michael Nike Gómez

Colombia – 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 Colombia, who progressed in 2nd from Group A but finished 6th (last) 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)

colombia Colombia

Tournament Summary

In Group A, Carlos Restrepo’s men stuttered to begin with and had a memorable setback in the second game when they gave away their lead to lose 4-3 to Ecuador, but they had nevertheless shown a lot of potential along the way and ultimately progressed after winning their last two games. However, they collapsed in the Hexagonal, frequently lacking in ambition or desire; perhaps the morale-sapping concession of a last-minute goal in the defeat against Argentina didn’t help as they followed this up by being swatted aside 3-0 by both Uruguay and Ecuador. Ultimately, they finished bottom with two points and, partly as a consequence of being so off the pace as much as there being no obvious second choice, have thus only been allocated one star man here. Complaints to the usual address, please.

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

Top Talent

juanhernandez

Juan Camilo Hernández (Attacking-midfielder, No. 10, América de Cali, on loan from Granada, Spain)

A 17-year-old creative attacker who made his debut at 15 and who has already played over 50 professional club games, scoring an outstanding 20 goals in 33 league games last season. That was all for second-tier Deportivo Pereira, where his exploits came to the attention of the intrepid scouting network of La Liga’s Granada, who have owned him since September and have ordained for him to now go on loan back home to newly-promoted giants  América de Cali.

It’s because of his age, prodigious potential and drive that he has been highlighted as Colombia’s most noteworthy player. Indeed, particularly in the latter stages, it often seemed like he was his country’s main forward threat, being the most likely source of a through-ball, a pin-point cross or a sudden shot from range. Yet, with many of his team-mates faltering and putting in some rather limp performances in the Hexagonal, some observers did comment that it may be a bit much to place so much hope in someone so youthful.

Despite this, though his colleagues were sometimes not on the same page and, perhaps as a consequence, he would try to make things happen unaided, Hernández kept his head higher than most, seemingly unfazed by the role he largely fashioned for himself. In terms of concrete contributions, he drew the foul to win the penalty against Venezuela in the first Hexagonal match and then stepped up himself to convert for a draw. In the following encounter against Argentina he got his side on level terms from a knock-on that he beat the goalkeeper to in order to head home. He was also credited with an assist for the first goal against Ecuador in the opening stage, though the real praise goes to the goalscorer as this consisted merely of a chested pass before Damir Ceter struck a fine shot from 25 yards.

As noted, he could have had at least a couple more assists but it’s also true that there were perhaps two shooting opportunities he should have done better from. Nevertheless, there’s certainly a good chance of hearing more of ‘El Cucho‘, a nickname he’s had since a child as, with a shaved head, his appearance would be compared to ex-Argentina international, Esteban ‘Cuchu’ Cambiasso.

colombia More Colombian Talents

For someone who only played in the opening two group games before succumbing to an injury, striker Damir Ceter (No. 9, Santa Fe) may be receiving undue prominence here. However, with no clear candidate to highlight after Hernández, his significance is owing to the intertwined facts that not only did he score twice in his short spell in the tournament, but without him or another decent target man, the work of Colombia’s roaming attacking-midfielders often petered out or was squandered. Indeed, with no goals in six outings, Michael Nike Gómez (No. 11, Envigado), also known as ‘Mike Nike’, struggled to convince and won’t be appearing in any globally transmitted sportswear adverts any time soon.

As if to further emphasise how different things may have been, Ceter actually came on as a substitute for Gómez in the opening game with Paraguay and though he did miss a clear opportunity, he also nudged home the last-minute equaliser. In the subsequent helter-skelter match against Ecuador, he scored a bona fide golazo as, early on, Hernández chested back to him and he struck brilliantly past the goalkeeper from 25 yards. Admittedly, he should probably have scored later on in the half when he again saw a one-on-one chance stopped, though a team-mate did at least slide home the rebound to double the lead. Perhaps, if he hadn’t got injured, he would’ve also frustrated and jaded those playing him in from behind. However, given his two goals in less than 120 minutes of play, plus his club record last season of 14 goals in 25 games for second-tier Deportes Quindío, one is keen to believe that his presence would’ve been a rather welcome asset. A promising top-flight season with new club Santa Fe hopefully awaits.


Aside from Hernández, perhaps the most promising other attacking-midfielder who could have benefited from having Ceter make runs was Ever Valencia (No. 13, Wisła Kraków, on loan from Independiente Medellín). He actually managed to score three goals himself, all in the opening group stage: the first against Ecuador was a somewhat fortuitous tap-in at the back post which involved two bites at the cherry; the second, a late winner against Brazil, was from a free-kick at an angle and probably wasn’t intended as a shot, but it surprised everyone as it took a slight deflection to bypass the goalkeeper; the third, against Chile, was more of his own doing, as he jinked forward, encroaching upon a reserved defence, before casually sliding his strike into the back of the net. In the Hexagonal, however, his main contribution was playing in the free-kick against Argentina which was knocked into Hernández’s path for the goal. Indeed, though he wasn’t afraid to get some shots away and put in some decent free-kicks, he and those positioned in the same line as him struggled to convert their nice interplay into goals. It was a pity, as some promise had been displayed by these players, such as Jorge Obregón (No. 19, Unión Magdalena), who chalked up a goal and an assist in the opening group stage.

Nevertheless, the competition has at least led to a move for Valencia: he played last season for Independiente Medellín, yet somewhat curiously was officially announced as a new signing by Atlético Bucaramanga just before the tournament began, though it’s debatable as to whether he was ever their player as he’s now been announced as a loanee for Poland’s Wisła Kraków.


Otherwise, even whilst taking into account the final-day thwarting of Brazil, given the side’s meek 3-0 capitulations to both Ecuador and Uruguay in the Hexagonal, not to mention the 4-3 defeat by Ecuador in the opening stage, one is reluctant to give much credit to their defence-minded players. Indeed, there was a bit of pre-tournament hype for captain and defensive-midfielder Kevin Balanta (No. 8, Deportivo Cali), who actually played for the senior team 18 months ago in a friendly featuring top overseas players and who has also started regularly at club level. However, whilst it shouldn’t be ignored that he could have had two decent assists had Hernández shown more composure and he could have had a goal himself had he not fluffed a header from a good position, with zero goals in over 45 club games, attacking clearly isn’t his main forte. That would instead be the ability to snuff out danger as well as protect the back four and thus, though he certainly looked like an impressive physical specimen, he could hardly be said to have patrolled the midfield well.


Balanta’s usual partner-in-crime (and captain when he wasn’t on the field), Eduard Atuesta (No. 20, Independiente Medellín), received some admiring glances in the opening stage and was able to get forward more, striking two shots from distance against the post. Defensively, it’s interesting to note that he was substituted off after Ecuador made it 2-2 in the initial defeat and he missed the 3-0 reversal against Uruguay altogether; however, though he sometimes impressed, he did also play with Balanta in the latter 3-0 defeat against Ecuador and managed to get sent off two minutes after coming off the bench against Argentina. The jury’s out on this pair; much more observation shall be required.


Lastly, a very quick word or two for the full-backs, who also had a mixed time defensively, but who displayed some promise early on and can’t be outright dismissed. Indeed, particularly in the opening game against Paraguay, left-back Anderson Arroyo (No. 5, Fortaleza), impressed with his frequent bustles up the flank, even hitting the post at one point. Given that he reportedly went on trial at Liverpool in July 2016,  is 17 years old and appears to have been playing two years in advance of himself for a while now (he also featured in most of the games at the 2015 Under-17 Sudamericano), it may be worth remembering his name. His counterpart on the right, Leyser Chaverra (No. 15, Universitario Popayán), was spotted going forward a little more as the tournament wore on; domestically, he has played, in total, over 60 club games, albeit in the second-tier.


If you would like to read about the best talents from the other nations, then click on the following links: UruguayEcuador, Venezuela, Argentina, Brazil 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 1-1 Venezuela (Hexagonal Group Stage, Matchday 1, 2017 Sudamericano Sub-20, 30 January 2017)

With six teams having qualified from the initial group stage, the Final Phase – also known as the Hexagonal – of the 2017 edition of the U-20 South American Youth Championship is now under way. The first of three games which took place on Matchday 1 saw Colombia take on neighbours Venezuela. Below are video highlights, a brief summary of the game and, most importantly, @DarrenSpherical‘s armchair talent-spotting… 

30117grouo

(Source: Wikipedia)

Colombia 1-1 Venezuela

CONMEBOL U-20 South American Youth Championship 2017, Hexagonal Group Stage, 30 January 2017 (YouTube)

Venezuela came close to defeating neighbours Colombia, though were thwarted by a late equaliser. The first period consisted largely of half-chances until Yeferson Soteldo put La Vinotinto‘s U20s ahead with a finely curled free-kick. The second half saw more forward forays by Colombia but the win appeared to be Venezuela’s when Carlos Cuesta was sent off for a foul on Soteldo in the 70th minute. However, half-time substitute Juan Hernández hadn’t deserted the cause and with barely five minutes left won a penalty, which he then duly stepped up to convert to earn a draw for Colombia. Although on balance a point apiece may have been a fair result, the awarding of the penalty left many Venezuelans fuming, including senior internationals Salomón Rondón and Oswaldo Vizcarrondo, who both aired their views on Twitter.

Talent Spotting

colombia Colombia

As Juan ‘El Cucho’ Hernández (No. 10, América de Cali, on loan from Granada, Spain) started his second successive game on the bench, perhaps his manager was saving  him for future battles against – based on reputation, at least – stronger opposition. However, a goal down at the break, his presence was required and he was to emerge as the most significant player of the second half. His first moment of note occurred in the 56th minute when, on the right flank, Leyser Chaverra (No. 15, Universitario Popayán) headed towards him; instead of simply controlling the ball, Hernández displayed some ingenuity by swivelling off the ball and allowing it to run into his path towards the edge of the area before having a low strike parried at the near post. A few minutes later on the right just outside the area, perhaps due to a lack of options he decided to shoot, with his right-footed strike curling inwards before being parried away. However, his most significant contribution came with around five minutes left when he chased a long ball and was brought down for a foul in the area by the Venezuelan goalkeeper – even if the latter did also get a touch on the ball. Thus, he stepped up and confidently dispatched the penalty to gain his nation a point as well as solidify himself as his side’s most important player.

The majority of his team-mates were less visible though, particularly in the first half, the attacking midfield trio of Ever Valencia (No. 13, Atlético Bucaramanga), Jorge Obregón (No. 19, Unión Magdalena) and Luis Fernando Díaz (No. 17, Barranquilla) seemed the likeliest to get Colombia a goal. Indeed, after just two minutes, Valencia slid in Obregón at an acute angle inside the area, though his shot went wide. In the 23rd minute, Díaz stroked a pass to Valencia on the left inside the area and, had it not been for the sliding block of a defender, could well have put his side ahead. Lastly, after 33 minutes from the edge of the area on the inside-right, Obregón hit a well-struck drive that forced a good parry out wide.

The closest Colombia came to scoring in the first half occurred in the 25th minute when Michael Nike Gómez (No. 11, Envigado) robbed an opponent on the right then, from the byline, played in a low ball that was uncontrollably stabbed by a Venezuela defender from close-range, forcing his own goalkeeper into a good instinctive save. Otherwise, the only other moment of hope before Hernández’s arrival came just before half time when Eduard Atuesta (No. 20, Independiente Medellín) curled a 30-yard free-kick over the wall, requiring a low diving save from the goalkeeper.

venezuelaflag Venezuela

He has been criticised for his lack of end-product but here, albeit from a static position, Yeferson Soteldo (No. 10, Huachipato, Chile) finally provided something of substance for his cheerleaders to purr over. Indeed, though some Colombians felt their goalkeeper could have done better, Soteldo’s 36th-minute free-kick was exquisitely curled over the wall into the back of the net. Otherwise, he was less successful from his other set-pieces and there was less midfield dribbling wizardry than has been the case, but he was nevertheless the man who was fouled in the 70th minute for Cuesta’s red card – had he not been he would have been one-on-one and, at a stretch, just about able to get a shot away.

Goalkeeper Wuilker Fariñez (No. 1, Caracas FC) made some routine stops as well as one decent first-half save from Obregón, though perhaps in this game more than any other, he gave scouts with an eye on him cause for concern. Indeed, he dealt with one cross unconvincingly (no doubt a rather common occurrence for a goalkeeper of 5 feet 9 inches) and, on another occasion, dallied outside his area by the touchline before being partly dispossessed and nearly fatally caught out. Most significantly, he committed the foul that conceded the penalty; while some argue that he got the ball first, he did nevertheless make contact with Hernández at virtually the same time with what was a rather clumsy attempt at intercepting. All the same, these things happen to the best and he has still only conceded two goals in five games – if, as seems likely, Venezuela let in at least a few more in their remaining games, one wonders if more shortcomings of his shall be exposed.

Otherwise, captain Yangel Herrera (No. 8, Atlético Venezuela) quietly impressed, on at least a few occasions displaying some neat footwork to shield the ball from opponents and, more generally, ensuring that Colombia rarely got too close for comfort – he has surely been emboldened by his seemingly imminent move to Manchester City.

Ronaldo Lucena (No. 16, Zamora FC) was once again a threat from set-pieces, though perhaps his two most notable crosses from these dead-ball situations came in the early exchanges. The first was in the 9th minute when his ball into the area from the left was headed on in space to Ronaldo Peña (No. 9, Las Palmas, Spain), who instinctively stabbed at the ball, but his effort was too close to the goalkeeper – had the latter a cooler head, he could well have found the back of the net though, to his minor relief, the flag was, in any case, raised soon afterwards. Lucena’s second decent set-piece came a couple of minutes later as his corner was headed, in a good position, by Williams Velásquez (No. 2, Estudiantes de Caracas), but alas, it went straight towards the goalkeeper, who caught.

Ultimately, it was nevertheless a fairly solid defensive performance by Venezuela and there was doubtless relief when Soteldo doubled his country’s tournament tally, though as both of these goals were from set-piece scenarios, fans will be keen to see more open-play attacking moves in their four remaining games.

The two subsequent games played on Hexagonal Matchday 1 were Uruguay vs Argentina and Ecuador vs Brazil – click to read talent-spotting articles for these encounters.

Otherwise, Matchday 2 of the Hexagonal will be on 2 February 2017 and the games shall be Colombia vs Argentina, Uruguay vs Brazil and Ecuador vs Venezuela – 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 9 – 2017 Sudamericano Sub-20 (Colombia 1-0 Chile & Ecuador 2-1 Paraguay)

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

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(Source: Wikipedia)

Colombia 1-0 Chile

CONMEBOL U-20 South American Youth Championship 2017, Group A, 26 January 2017 (YouTube)

Chile certainly exhibited more attacking initiative than in previous games, but unfortunately for them, they were unable to find the back of the Colombian net and thus it is instead their opponents who are through to the Hexagonal. Indeed, La Rojita were put on the back foot early on when a few of their defenders stood off Ever Valencia, who waltzed through centrally before placing a low shot home for the lead. Chile nevertheless responded and were to come forward with increasing levels of urgency, with Jeisson Vargas and Francisco Sierralta in particular driving their side on. It was the latter who actually hit the crossbar with 15 minutes remaining and shortly after, team-mate Ignacio Jara was to miss what was Chile’s best opportunity: virtually an open goal in front of which he squandered a low header. All that being said, they needed to win not draw and Colombia never lost the ability to get forward, nearly getting the game’s second goal themselves in the 56th minute when Eduard Atuesta struck the post with a low drive. When the final whistle blew, they had done enough to progress and thus shall hopefully prove to be another welcome attack-minded addition to the final group stage.

Talent Spotting

colombia Colombia

Colombia had at least a couple of noteworthy players absent from the line-up but, fortunately, a 5th-minute goal from  Ever Valencia (No. 13, Atlético Bucaramanga) was able to settle any nerves early on. He latched onto a short central pass from Jorge Obregón (No. 19, Unión Magdalena), then benefited from some Chilean reserve as he was able to make his through a little too easily before striking a low shot into the corner for his third tournament goal. He and Obregón often linked up well alongside their attacking team-mates and made for a formidably powerful and pacy  spectacle when roaming forward with quick interplay. Indeed, in the 13th minute, Obregón again came upfield to slide a pass to Valencia, this time on the inside-right edge of the area; from here, the latter struck a low left foot effort that was saved. Later on in the 51st minute, Valencia managed to get another shot away following good work from Obregón and another compatriot; this time, his effort was from outside the area and comfortably gathered by the goalkeeper.

Though they connected well, aside from the goal these individuals playing behind the striker didn’t really create an eye-catching chance. One man who did, however, was the striker they were often seeking to play in. Indeed, in the 25th minute, Michael Nike Gómez (No. 11, Envigado) came the closest he has all tournament to doing something befitting his advertiser’s dream of a name. Back-to-goal somewhat right-of-centre in the area, he did a great piece of improvisational skill to tee himself up, swivel and strike a fine volley that wenr just wide of the far post.

Otherwise, the closest Colombia came to extending the lead was a 55th-minute effort from captain Eduard Atuesta (No. 20, Independiente Medellín). Just a few minutes before this, the holding midfielder had headed a half-decent chance over but here, following good work from Luis Fernando Díaz (No. 17, Barranquilla) and a lay-off from Obregón, he hit the far post from just inside the area on the right.

One man surprisingly absent from the line-up was hitherto star man, Juan ‘El Cucho’ Hernández (No. 10, América de Cali, on loan from Granada, Spain). He entered the fray in the 73rd minute and got away a couple of late efforts when Chile had committed a few too many players up the other end: striking wide with a snap-shot as well as shooting at the goalkeeper. Whilst these were not the ideal circumstances to shine, one expects to see far more of him in the Hexagonal stage.

chileflag Chile

Although they probably won’t find much solace in the fact, La Rojita did nevertheless put in a spirited response to going behind so early, even if ultimately they fell short. Jeisson Vargas (No. 10, Estudiantes de La Plata, Argentina, on loan from Bologna, Italy), their most potent attacking threat in the tournament – even if he did only play less than two-and-a-half games – was again here often involved with the search for a goal. Indeed, he hoisted and curled many balls into the area, some admittedly much better than others, though at least one should have had a better outcome than a soft header wide. Later in the 59th minute, he managed to fashion a chance for himself almost out of nothing when Richard Paredes (No. 9, Palestino) slightly overhit a diagonal ball from the edge of the area over towards the left; it was almost on the byline and looked set to go out before Vargas wrapped his left foot around it and struck a well-hit half-volley that the goalkeeper had to parry out.

Possibly the most visible man on the pitch was captain Francisco Sierralta (No. 13, Palestino, on loan from Granada, Spain), nominally a centre-back but who increasingly seemed to be given licence to roam. He was the one who greeted Vargas’ best free-kick delivery which came in from a deep position on the right in the 30th minute; however, though he rose high, he got a weak connection on the ball and his header went comfortably past the far post. Yet, he came much closer later on in the 75th minute when he bustled forward to the edge of the area and managed to poke, with some considerable power, a strike that rattled off the crossbar. Perhaps in part due to his determination to stay in the competition, his eagerness saw him pick up a second yellow in stoppage-time; yet, with so many other players who, pre-tournament, were earmarked for future prosperity also having been sent off, he can perhaps consider this a rite of passage. Indeed, he evidently has leadership qualities and is capable of providing an attacking threat as well as keeping forwards largely at bay (Chile’s record of four goals conceded in four games was their group’s second best). Thus, it is little wonder that the talent-hunters of Granada have already reached a deal for this irrepressible man.

Nevertheless, Sierralta may have hit the woodwork but it was another of Chile’s notable prospects who had their best chance to score. Indeed, Ignacio Jara (No. 15, Cobreloa) really should have equalised in the 80th minute when a free-kick lofted in by Gabriel Suazo (No. 8, Colo Colo) was headed invitingly across the goalmouth; however, though Jara got down to his knees in front of a gaping hole at the back post, he somehow nodded wide.

Lastly, a quick mention for an early 22nd-minute chance merely because it involved two Chileans who, during this tournament, always hinted that they had extra in their arsenal without ever really doing anything remarkable. Indeed, the tricky, if slight, Victor Dávila (No. 7, Huachipato) set up this opportunity on the inside-right when his hopeful ball found Iván Morales (No. 19, Colo Colo) in the area, though the latter struck into the side-netting.

Individuals such as these may become decent domestic players but if one had to bet on who will be receiving regular call-ups to the national side in the upcoming years, one would have to go with the following: Vargas, Sierralta (and possibly some other defence-minded players) and, with somewhat greater reservations, Jara.

Ecuador 2-1 Paraguay

CONMEBOL U-20 South American Youth Championship 2017, Group A, 26 January 2017 (YouTube)

In a game that would have led to the drawing of lots had it ended level, hosts Ecuador just about held on to progress, pipping Colombia and Brazil to the top of Group A on goals scored. They looked the better side early on and with two goals in two minutes momentarily seemed to send Paraguay into a spin. The first of these came in the 20th minute after their defence was caught out by a chipped ball which, in space, was then slid to Washington Corozo to knock home. Shortly afterwards, the home fans were sent into raptures when a hoisted ball towards the area was headed out only to Herlin Lino, who volleyed a spectacular golazo from 25 yards. By half time, Paraguay seemed out, though their coach hadn’t given up, even sending his players back out onto the pitch a few minutes before their opponents. He got an instant response as within 25 seconds of the restart, a hopeful ball knocked towards the right edge of the area was cheekily, yet wonderfully, lobbed over the goalkeeper by Pedro Báez. With the deficit halved, Paraguay threw virtually everything they had at the Ecuador goal, coming very close on more than one occasion. They caused home jitters with every forward foray as the hosts were frequently put very much on the back foot, surviving scare after scare. Alas, they clung on and should provide some much-needed atmosphere and bustling play in the Hexagonal; Paraguay, on the other hand, may feel a little unlucky to be leaving, though ultimately they didn’t quite do enough.

Talent Spotting

ecuadorflag Ecuador

Possibly Ecuador’s most consistent threat in the tournament, Joao Rojas (No. 17, Emelec), had a hand in both of the goals as well as threatened to get on the scoresheet himself. Indeed, early on in the 9th minute he whipped in a free-kick from the left that dipped and had to be parried out. Shortly afterwards, he created a gilt-edged opportunity for another player of note, Washington Corozo (No. 7, Independiente Del Valle), when his perfectly weighted cross from the right found the latter in acres of space, yet he directed his header straight against the post. However, in the 20th minute, Corozo made up for this when he scored the opener. This arrived when Rojas did brilliantly to beat the offside trap and control a fine chipped ball from Jordan Sierra (No. 15, Delfin) and then slide it in space across the area to Corozo, who turned and struck home. For the second goal, Rojas dinked a ball forward to the edge of the area where it was headed out unconvincingly to Herlin Lino (No. 9, Barcelona SC, Ecuador), who deserves all the credit for his sensational swerving volley from 25 yards, which caught the goalkeeper out of position and ripped the back of the net.

Otherwise, Rojas and Corozo did provide some more notable contributions to the game: the former tested the goalkeeper and his defence from set-pieces and the latter ran at opponents, getting in a shot or two from open play and almost played a part in sealing the win late on. This occurred in the 82nd minute when he marched on a breakaway down the left, but a defender caught up with him as he was set to play the ball through for a one-on-one opportunity; his pass was thus blocked.

Two minutes after this, with Paraguay largely stationed in opposition territory, another ball was played into space in their half, this time on the right. With possibly his first touch of the match, Corozo’s replacement Jordy Caicedo (No. 19, Universidad Católica, Ecuador), struck a fearsome effort from the right of the area, which caused concern even if it went wide.

However, chances like these last two were rather isolated moments in the second half as Ecuador were largely preoccupied with repelling the Paraguayan onslaught. Indeed, in perhaps a portent of things to come, just before half time, Bryan Cabezas (No. 10, Atalanta, Italy) did rather well to stop a cross from reaching its target at the back post, as he headed away from what was almost the underside of the bar. After the break, the services of attackers such as he would be required more at their own end; in the Hexagonal, however, Ecuador have thus far shown more than enough to convince that they will be a significant threat to opponents, whomever they may be.

paraguay Paraguay

Jesús Medina (No. 11, Libertad) has probably been his country’s most significant player in this tournament and, though he could not find a way through here, much anticipation nevertheless greeted many of his touches. Indeed, he actually had his side’s first notable chance of the match when, in the 12th minute, he took the ball past a player and then, from the inside-left of the area with a clear sight of goal, took aim; alas, his shot was straight at the goalkeeper and was blocked out. Later in the 30th minute, he exhibited some wherewithal and technique to skilfully keep in at the left byline an overhit free-kick; from here, he hooked the ball into the area where it bounced before a team-mate who, unfortunately, blazed well over. In the second half, he continued to be a potential threat from set-pieces, his most notable attempt from one coming in the 66th minute 22 yards out on the inside-right; yet, despite the huge delay and build-up, he curled this a yard or two over the near post.

The man who did manage to find the back of the net – and who was also the player who whacked over Medina’s first-half cut-back – was Pedro Báez (No. 9, Real Salt Lake, USA, on loan from Cerro Porteño). His first goal of the tournament against Chile had been quietly impressive but this audacious lob from a Marcelo Arce (No. 3, Olimpia) hoist down the right side of the area immediately earned widespread praise. Though there was an element of hit-and-hope about it, one must credit him for rapidly eyeing the opportunity and then seizing the moment. Otherwise, though he certainly bustled, the closest he later came to helping his side get a second occurred in the 67th minute. Here, after he did well to beat his man he put in a cross from the right that dipped towards the back post and almost found a creeping team-mate, but a defender was there to head out.

However, one man who probably should have got an equalising goal, was substitute Richard Prieto (No. 20, General Díaz). The chance he squandered came in the 70th minute when a hoisted ball into the area was weakly chested by a defender towards his goalkeeper, yet so soft was it that Prieto was able to sneak in, one-one-one, but his blasted shot went well over. For many, that was the moment and that was the tournament.

Right-back Rodi Ferreira (No. 2, Olimpia) was responsible for this delivery into the area and he was another potential supplier of that elusive second goal, often knocking balls upfield from deep positions. Sometimes, he even got forward himself, such as in the 57th minute when a free-kick was struck in from the left side and he just about kept the ball in play on the byline; his hanging header, no doubt unintentionally, caused a few jitters as it eventually came down and hit the top of the crossbar before going over.

Both he and the left-sided full-back Blás Riveros (No. 4, Basel, Switzerland).appear to be important prospects who could quite plausibly become regulars in the senior squad in upcoming years. Indeed, in this match the Swiss-based left-back also tried to get himself an assist, curling in some decent balls that nevertheless could not be directed goalwards. He himself, to his enormous credit, actually created a chance of his own in the 63rd minute; here, following the breakdown of a Ecuador corner, he blazed a trail up the centre of the pitch, easily bypassing at least two players along the way, before striking a solid effort that went a yard or so wide of the far post. Later on in the tense latter stages, as he was often pushing forward, he sometimes had to dash back, such as in the 82nd minute when he impressively crossed over to the right side of the pitch to stop Corozo from playing a through-ball that could have led to an Ecuadorian third. Thus, Riveros shows potential at both ends and was even given the tournament’s blessing for future success by getting sent off at the death – who knows, we may see him in the Champions League next season.

Nevertheless, despite impressive moments from players such as Riveros, Rodi Ferreira, Medina and Báez, as well as, at times, Cristhian Paredes (No. 6, Club América, Mexico) and Sebastián Ferreira (No. 19, Olimpia), it’s adios to Paraguay. They came close, but just couldn’t quite manage to upset the capacity crowd in Riobamba.

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

Darren Spherical

@DarrenSpherical

Day 7 – 2017 Sudamericano Sub-20 (Paraguay 2-1 Chile & Colombia 1-0 Brazil)

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

groupa240117

(Source: Wikipedia)

Paraguay 2-1 Chile

CONMEBOL U-20 South American Youth Championship 2017, Group A, 24 January 2017 (YouTube)

Pre-game, both sides seemed the likeliest to be going home early from Group A, but with a late winner, Paraguay greatly enhanced their chances of progressing, whilst putting Chile on the brink. Yet, it was La Rojita who made most of the early running, with the returning Jeisson Vargas setting up chances and rattling the crossbar from a free-kick. However, very much against the run of play, Paraguay took the lead in the 33rd minute when Pedro Báez twisted one way and then the other before striking home. It wasn’t to be until the 82nd minute that Chile got back on level terms; they did so via somewhat fortuitous means when a mis-hit cross bounced into the goalmouth, evading everyone except Ignacio Jara. Despite this relief, their joy was shortlived as in stoppage-time, following a rebound, the ball found its way through to Cristhian Paredes, who hit the back of the net.

Talent Spotting

paraguay Paraguay

Although he had less of a monopoly over the Paraguayan creativity than he did against Brazil, Jesús Medina (No. 11, Libertad) nevertheless played his part in some of the attempts on the Chile goal. Indeed, it was he who passed the ball up to Pedro Báez (No. 9, Real Salt Lake, USA, on loan from Cerro Porteño), though it is the latter who deserves most credit for the 33rd-minute opener, as he fooled a cluster of defenders before firing home with his left peg. Later in the 78th minute, Medina played a more substantial role in what was nearly the second goal, as his corner to the near post area bounced before purposely reaching the alert Saúl Salcedo (No. 5, Olimpia) whose elegant flick-shot with the outside of his right boot had to be quickly parried. With three minutes left Medina, this time from a free-kick, chipped in another ball that found its target in Báez, but alas, this went straight to the goalkeeper; thus, the eventual winner was to come from a different route altogther.

Indeed,  Cristhian Paredes (No. 6, Club América, Mexico) deserves praise for both starting and ending the sequence of events that led to this stoppage-time goal. He picked up the ball in the middle of the park, holding off a defender along the way before nudging it to Sebastián Ferreira (No. 19, Olimpia) on the edge of the area, who poked a shot at the goalkeeper. The rebound fell to Guillermo Paiva (No. 16, 3 de Febrero), who knocked in a low ball from the right inside the area towards the goalmouth; this was missed with an air-kick from Ferreira, but waiting behind him was Paredes, who fired home to claim the glory.

Otherwise, it would be remiss to note that just before this, Paraguay actually had two other notable chances to regain the lead, both featuring players involved with the goal. Indeed, Paiva was, in a way atoning for his miss barely a minute prior when, having just come on as a substitute, he was played into clear space around the edge of the area yet horribly screwed a right-footed shot wide.

Previous to this, Ferreira had rose rather well on the edge of the area to head a deep free-kick from the right; his effort bounced and seemingly threatened to creep inside the far post, but alas, this went a yard wide. This set-piece was played in by right-back Rodi Ferreira (No. 2, Olimpia) and it certainly wasn’t his only creative input in the game, having come close to the target from a free-kick earlier on and also having sent in some other testing balls. Already a regular at club level, it looks like his country may have a decent pair of full-backs in he and Blás Riveros (No. 4, Basel, Switzerland).

chileflag Chile

Particularly in the first half, Chile saw much of the ball and, more than anyone else, the man leading the drive for a goal was the returning Jeisson Vargas (No. 10, Estudiantes de La Plata, Argentina, on loan from Bologna, Italy); following on from his crude red card against Brazil, he provided several, more positive, instances of his talents. With less than two minutes gone, he played an incisive pass forward to 17-year-old Iván Morales (No. 19, Colo Colo) who just about shielded the ball away from the Paraguay goalkeeper before immediately turning and striking low; alas, defender Pablo Meza had quickly sensed this and was there on the goal-line to clear. Morales had a couple of other minor moments of note in the first half when generally being a nuisance to the opposition defence and may well be one to look out for at 2019’s tournament. Nevertheless, Vargas was the main man in this period, playing in balls and striking from range – at one point, he actually managed three shots in just under five minutes. Indeed, from 25 yards in the 24th minute, he struck with intent just wide of the far post; a minute later from a similar position, he hit a dipping free-kick barely a yard over; then, most eye-catchingly of all in the 28th minute, following a free-kick Morales had won after chasing a chipped Vargas ball, the latter whacked a thunderous set-piece that crashed off the crossbar and out. Although he was less conspicuous in the second half, he did nevertheless display some determination and hunger to push forward and cause some uncertainty with his area-bound balls; it’s not hard to see why a Serie A side have already snapped him up.

All that being said, he had no role in the 82nd-minute equalising goal, which had more than an element of fortune about it. Indeed, on the right, Victor Dávila (No. 7, Huachipato) – who caused a few problems with his dribbles, though seems a tad slight – made some space for himself but slipped as he was crossing in with his left boot. The ball thus bounced unpredictably in the goalmouth with first Morales missing it and then a defender being put in an awkward position; before he could do anything decisive about it, Ignacio Jara (No. 15, Cobreloa) pounced at the back post to get the goal.

Alas, ultimately, it wasn’t to be enough and now Chile find themselves perched over the precipice of elimination.

Colombia 1-0 Brazil

CONMEBOL U-20 South American Youth Championship 2017, Group A, 24 January 2017 (YouTube)

Brazil rested several of their hitherto most effective players as Colombia snatched a victory in a game no doubt appreciated more by the Mario Yepes’ than the Carlos Valderramas of this world. Indeed, despite having a lively tempo, clear chances were not easy to come by, with the two defences both emerging from this with the most plaudits. From range, Colombia’s Juan Hernández perhaps came closest with a respectable effort and, later, he could have perhaps had an assist to his name had Michael Gómez got more direction on his header. The second half largely consisted of defences getting the upper hand, though Brazil did come close in the 58th minute when a spilled free-kick was nodded onto the post by Lucas Cunha, though the rebound from this was nervily blocked. To witness a goal in this game was certainly unanticipated and the manner in which it arrived even more so: from a difficult angle on the right in the 87th minute, substitute Ever Valencia struck what looked like a cross, but which may have taken a minor deflection that surprisingly deceived the goalkeeper. Despite this loss, Brazil are through to the Final Phase, whereas these three points for Colombia mean that while a draw against Chile in their final game could well be enough for them to qualify, a victory certainly will be. Their fate now lies in their own feet.

Talent Spotting

colombia Colombia

Though no attacking player could be said to have put in a vintage performance, Juan ‘El Cucho’ Hernández (No. 10, América de Cali, on loan from Granada, Spain) again made some notable contributions. After just 9 minutes on the left, he exhibited some fine natural ability when, apropos of nothing, he turned to put in a superb right-footed dipping cross which Michael Nike Gómez (No. 11, Envigado) met before the goalkeeper, but his connection was weak and went wide. Finishing like that won’t be earning ‘Mike Nike’ any lucrative sponsorship deals any time soon, though Hernández may have more luck in that department. He also came closest to the target in the first half when, from the right edge of the area in the 34th minute, he struck a decent effort that the goalkeeper had to tip over.

Otherwise, Colombia struggled to get a clear sight of goal within a realistic shooting distance and the likes of Luis Fernando Díaz (No. 17, Barranquilla) were often squeezed for time and space on the flanks. Indeed, for this otherwise persistent individual it didn’t get much better than a 47th minute cross-field pass that he played to Jorge Obregón (No. 19, Unión Magdalena) who, to the annoyance of Hernández in the centre, struck over from the right edge of the area. Also, in the 56th minute, right-back Leyser Chaverra (No. 15, Universitario Popayán) showed a brief glimpse as to why he may be one-to-watch when he came inside, received an unintentional one-two from his own forward nudge, then instinctively shot from range, though this was easily stopped by the goalkeeper.

Nevertheless, despite all these underwhelming attacks, they got the crucial goal. In the 87th minute, substitute Ever Valencia (No. 13, Atlético Bucaramanga) curled in a free-kick from an acute position on the right – ‘Ian Woan territory‘, if you will – and, though he no doubt was expecting a team-mate to get a touch on it, it somehow went past the keeper and in. It may have actually taken a slight touch off Brazil’s Léo Jabá, but as the ball wasn’t too elevated, it seems the goalkeeper was anticipating it to be headed away; instead, it flew by for Valencia’s second goal of the tournament.

Lastly, while Colombia’s defence may deserve some praise for the clean sheet, as they were playing a weakened Brazil side and three of their own back four in this match also conceded four goals in the Ecuador game, one may wish to withhold judgement for the time being.

brazilflag Brazil

Though they succumbed to what was a slightly fortuitous goal, Brazil’s defensive organisation deserves some acclaim for this performance as well as for all of the opening four games (three conceded). Those on the flanks, Rogério (No. 16, Juventus Primavera, Italy) and Robson Bambu (No. 13, Santos), performed admirable roles restricting the amount of balls into the area whilst centre-back Lyanco (No. 4, São Paulo) has an impressive stature and exuded confidence when coming out with the ball.

The other centre-back, Lucas Cunha (No. 3, Braga, Portugal), actually had his side’s best opportunity of the match. This came in the 58th minute following a free-kick dipped into area from the right by Allan (No. 5, Hertha BSC, Germany, on loan from Liverpool, England) which bounced through the bodies and was unconvincingly patted out by the goalkeeper. Lucas Cunha was thus on hand for the rebound but his header was directed a little too close to the corner, where it hit the post; from this, Maycon (No. 17, Corinthians) snapped a strike that would have gone in had it not been for an opponent getting in the way.

Otherwise, a few deflected shots and a minor 20-yard attempt from Giovanny (No. 21, Atlético Paranaense) that was comfortably saved low was about all this makeshift Brazil side were able to create. However, one suspects the coaching staff won’t be too worried as not only were they able to give some key players a rest but also all of those who did play will now go into the Final Phase with the relative luxury of five days off before their first match on 30 January.

To keep up-to-date with the latest from Ecuador 2017, please follow @DarrenSpherical on Twitter. The next games will be Venezuela vs Bolivia & Uruguay vs Peru 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