The Under-17 World Cup kicks off on Saturday in Brazil and there are three reasons why Barcelona fans should try to catch the action at the competition that runs until November 17: Jose Martinez, Ilaix Moriba and Pedri.
Defender Martinez and exciting midfielder Ilaix Moriba are part of Barcelona’s Juvenil A side, while Pedri plays for Las Palmas but has already agreed to move to the Camp Nou next summer. All three players are in the Spain squad for the tournament.
Of course Ansu Fati could also have been involved but such has been his rise this season it was decided to leave out him, and he’s already made his debut for the Under-21 team instead.
Spain are in Group E and will face Argentina, Tajikstan and Cameroon. The top two teams qualify from each group along with four of the best third-placed teams.
Here’s a look at Spain’s fixture list for the group stages (all fixtures are available here)
- Spain vs. Argentina, Monday October 28
- Spain vs. Tajikstan, Thursday October 31
- Spain vs. Cameroon, Sunday November 3
Martinez and Moriba will know each other well from their time together at Barca and will be hoping to make an impact with Spain. Moriba is one of Barcelona’s most exciting young talents who has already caught the eye since joining the club in 2010.
Indeed one of the reported reasons for Victor Valdes’ recent dismissal as Juvenil A boss was because he dropped Moriba, leading to his parents complaining to Patrick Kluivert.
The 16-year-old made his debut for Barcelona B in September but spoke after the match about how he’s willing to be patient at the Camp Nou.
Moriba reportedly signed a new deal in April that will pay him €2 million over three years and includes a buyout clause of €100m.
Here’s another example of why he is so highly-rated.
Another player Barcelona will want to keep their eye on at the tournament is Pedri. The 16-year-old starlet will move to Barca from Las Palmas on 1 July 2020 after the two clubs struck a deal.
[ÚLTIMA HORA] Barça i @UDLP_Oficial arriben a un acord per al traspàs del jugador Pedri, de 16 anys, a partir de l'1 de juliol del 2020— FC Barcelona B (@FCBarcelonaB) September 2, 2019
https://t.co/OVs6ramzXH#BarçaB #ForçaBarça pic.twitter.com/tE1PhFTlzD
Pedri has already been doing the business in the early weeks of the season for Las Palmas to help them into eighth place in the table, just two points off second spot after 12 games.
Pedri's last six games for UD Las Palmas:— Scouted Football (@ScoutedFtbl) October 14, 2019
⚽ vs Sporting Gijón
⭕ vs Girona
⭕ vs Albacete
⚽ vs SD Ponferradina
⚽ vs CD Lugo
️ ️ vs Deportivo La Coruña
He's 16. pic.twitter.com/auJqMgt1by
The Spanish starlet is expected to continue to make waves at the tournament and it will be interesting to see how he and the team fare in Brazil. Spain have plenty of talent in their squad but are likely to come up against some really tough tests if they qualify for the knockout stages.
Hosts Brazil are one of the favourites to win the tournament, while five-time winners Nigeria and European champions the Netherlands are also highly rated and will be expected to go deep into the competition.