English youth football in England has been hugely successful in 2017. The Three Lions won the Under-20 World Cup and now their Under-17 counterparts have the chance to do the same on Saturday.
England were superb in defeating Brazil 3-1 in the semi-final. Now standing in their way of World Cup glory is Spain, a country that has enjoyed a stranglehold over both youth and senior international football in recent times.
Ahead of Saturday’s final we’ve scouted three players from each team who could decide the outcome of the game.
Joel Latibeaudiere (England & Manchester City)
Every great attack is built on solid defence and in Manchester City’s young centre-back, England have the ideal anchor.
Latibeaudiere is calm in possession, but is also athletically gifted and can close down space quickly and efficiently.
He’s also dominant in the air, so Spain are unlikely to have success with crosses into the penalty area. England’s opponents are mobile and intelligent when on the ball, so this will prove a real test of the teenager’s concentration and temperament.
Juan Miranda (Spain & Barcelona)
The left-sided defender is the typical Spanish full-back. Capable of making an impact at both ends of the pitch, Miranda is a very able defender but loves to get forward and aid the attack.
Blessed with an exceptional left foot, his deliveries into the penalty box will ask questions of the England defence. And, standing tall at 6ft, he will also provide a genuine aerial threat.
Phil Foden (England & Man City)
After showcasing his talents for Manchester City on their pre-season tour in America, Foden has picked up where he left off for England. And the youngster has the potential to become one of the most talented and dangerous midfielders of his era.
He is a throwback to the days of Chris Waddle – his guile on the ball is reminiscent of the former Sheffield Wednesday man. Foden is able to use both feet and has the intelligence and control to become world-class. Pep Guardiola is already a fan, which tells you all you need to know about his style and ability.
Cesar Gelabert (Spain & Real Madrid)
There is nothing the Spanish love more than an industrious yet inspired creative midfielder. And in Real Madrid starlet Cesar Gelabert, they have just that.
He’s already made it clear he gains more joy from making chances for team-mates than finishing them off himself. For someone so young, that is an extremely level-headed attitude.
Gelabert would have been delighted to pick up two assists in the semi-final against Mali and, with his outstanding vision and execution, he has everything needed to open up England’s back line.
Rhian Brewster (England & Liverpool)
After scoring hat-tricks in back-to-back games, there is no chance of keeping the young striker a secret.
Brewster has come of age and has found the net seven times so far in this competition.
It’s not every day you score three against Brazil having bagged a treble against the USA days earlier, but that’s exactly what the Liverpool prospect did this week.
And in the process he demonstrated the speed, strength and accurate finishing of a mature professional.
The 17-year-old is a hard worker and Jürgen Klopp has described the former Chelsea youngster as special.
Full of energy and determination, Brewster has been described as a great influence both on and off the pitch.
Abel Ruiz (Spain & Barcelona)
The centre-forward is Spain’s top scorer with six goals and his double against Mali was key in securing his country’s final berth. Quick, direct and with the awareness to get behind defences, Ruiz is a consistent threat to opponents.
When in front of goal, the Barcelona youngster has shown a composed touch. This was never more evident than against France, when he dispatched a 90th minute spot kick to help Spain progress.