The quest to enhance their reputation in football’s biggest talent-hunt competition will face a stern examination when Germany and Colombia face off in the first FIFA U-17 World Cup pre-quarterfinal in New Delhi on Monday.
To use the cliche, the match-up will again pit Latino flair against Europe’s workmanlike approach.
Guardian the citadel could prove to be key as both the teams are expected to enter the game with a mindset to outdo each other in attack.
An intense battle is on the cards at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium as Colombia and Germany have the level of quality, experience and know-how.
A strong and reliable defence will allow the forward line to adopt an offensive strategy right from the outset and put pressure on the opponents.
It is a contest between a well-oiled European side and a South American team that has gotten better with every match in this tournament.
A four-time world champion and a force to reckon with in international football for long, Germany’s record in this tournament is not as awe-inspiring.
They have made it to the semi-finals of the tournament four times and have played more matches (44) than any other European side.
Their best performance came in 1985 when they were runners-up. For a nation appearing in its 10th finals, Germany would certainly want to win the silverware.
Colombia are undoubtedly one of the bigger footballing nations in South America to have never won a world title.
This is their sixth finals appearance and their best performance till date came in 2009 when they finished third after losing to Spain 0-1 in the semi-finals. Looking at the way they improved with each outing, the Colombians seem determined to break the title drought this time around.
The Germans bounced back in style after their defeat to Iran - the biggest upset of the tournament so far - and will surely fancy their chances in the Round of 16 clash.
Both recorded two wins in the round robin stage, lost one each and scored five times in the three first round matches, clearly showing that there is little to differentiate between the two sides.
Their only previous encounter at this level came at the 2007 edition in Korea Republic, which ended in a thrilling 3-3 draw.
The stakes are much higher this time around, though, as the winner will keep their dream alive while the loser head home.
Hamburger SV forward Jann-Fiete Arp, who scored in the side’s win in the last game, will certainly be the man to watch out for upfront.
According to coach Christian Wuck, who has been associated with the German Football Association since 2012 working with various junior sides, this team has the best lot of young players he has managed and he expects them to go all the way in the finals.
Even though they posted a 3-1 victory over Guinea, Germany were not able to win the possession battle against an opponent that is inferior to them, and they must have worked on it heading into the big-ticket game.
As far as Colombia are concerned, the focus will be on Juan Penaloza, who contributed immensely to his side’s progress to the pre-quarterfinals with goals as well as assists.
Colombia had lost to Ghana 0-1 in their opening encounter before getting full points against India with a narrow 2-1 win, and then came the drubbing of USA, which has boosted their confidence.
Germany: Luca Plogmann, Alexander Nitzl, Pascal Hackethal, Dominik Becker, Jan Boller, Noah Awuku, Shaverdi Catin, Eric Majetshcek, Jan-Fiete ARP, Elias Abouchabaka, Nicolas Kuehn, Luis Klatte, Dennis Jastrzembski, Yannik Keitel, Kilian Ludewig, Lars Mai, maurice Malone, John Yeboah, Jessic Ngankam, Yann Bisseck and Marian Prins.
Columbia: Nicolas Gomez, Andres Cifuentes, Guillermo Tegue, Christian Andrade, Thomas Gutierrez, Andres Perea, Leandro Campaz, Luis Lopez, Santiago Barrero, Brayan Gomez, Juan Penaloza, Kevin Mier, Robert Mejia, Yadir Meneses, Gustavo Carvajal, Fabian Angel, Deiber Caicedo, Deyman Cortes, Juan Vidal, Etilso Martinez, Daniel Melo.