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Salt Lake's pride: Two teams with one soul as Brazil take on Germany

Penalties would be cruel, but the occasion demands no less drama. This is Brazil versus Germany after all.

Published: 22nd October 2017 12:45 AM  |   Last Updated: 22nd October 2017 12:45 AM   |  A+A-

Salt Lake in Kolkata. | PTI

Express News Service

KOLKATA: As Brazil's U-17 team entered the Salt Lake Stadium here on Saturday for their final practice session before their quarterfinal against Germany, their coach Carlos Amadeu gestured to his players to look around at the stadium. "When we come to know a stadium, we look at the stands and imagine them full of fans," he would later clarify. "We try see the soul of the stadium."

On Sunday, they won't have to imagine too hard, for the soul of Salt Lake will be on display in full force. It's Brazil versus Germany after all. The kind of match that often headline senior World Cups. A clash of contrasting tactics and ideologies.

"With 60,000 (people in the stands), I've never played," says Brazil's Paulinho.

"With 40,000, I have. But they were supporting the other team." He wouldn't have to worry too hard about that though. There are more Brazil fans than anything else in Kolkata.

For most fans, it's part three of an enthralling series that have been played out over the last three years. The first act was in Estadio Mineirao in 2014, when a dominant German team inflicted a 7-1 defeat on Brazil in the semifinal of the World Cup, a wound on the Brazilian psyche that threatened to leave scars for generations.

The second act was redemption, when Neymar and Brazil's U-23 team clinched gold at the Rio Olympics, downing the Germans in the final. For the third, the two teams will drop down a couple of age groups, down to the U-17s.

And unlike the previous two games, it is the Brazilians who would head into this as marginal favourites. They've won every match so far, conceding only one goal. Every defence who've come across the likes of Alan, Lincoln and Paulinho have found them difficult to handle. But they have been far from spectacular.

Germany though have looked like they never recovered from that 4-0 humbling at the hands of Iran. "I just wanted the boys to come off the field," is how German coach Christian Wuck described that game. They struggled to a win in their next game Guinea. Even their 4-0 demolition of Colombia in the last 16, was more down to the South Americans being woeful than Germany being spectacular.

"Brazil against Germany is a world classic," said Amadeu in his pre-match interaction. Whether it is seniors or U-15s, it doesn't matter. That is because both teams try to play. It's not like one team plays and the other sits back. We have been preparing for this moment since 2015. I've told the players, if we are losing, lose because Germany is good, not because we are bad."

Amadeu expects the game to be close, even close enough to be decided on penalties.

"I have told my players to be prepared for a draw," he said. "If it's penalties, then we have to be prepared for that."

Penalties would be cruel, but the occasion demands no less drama. This is Brazil versus Germany after all.



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