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FIFA Under-17 World Cup


England U17s have improved since Euro final loss - Spain's Ferran Torres

ESPN's Sharda Ugra and Debayan Sen were on scene at the Salt Lake Stadium to watch as England upset Brazil to make the final of the Under-17 World Cup.

Ferran Torres says both his Spain team and Saturday's FIFA Under-17 World Cup final opponents England are better sides than when they met in the final of the European Championship five months ago.

Valencia's Torres has been one of the sensations of the tournament, starting in all of Spain's six games in India while scoring two goals and setting up two more.

The 17-year-old was in the Spain side that beat England 4-1 on penalties to claim Euro U17 glory in Slovakia back in May.

England are unbeaten in the competition and go into the top game in Mumbai on the back of a 3-1 semifinal win over Brazil, the only team that has beaten Spain in the competition, and Torres anticipates a very difficult game against the Young Lions.

"We beat England at the European Championship but it's a very powerful team," he said. "England have made some changes since then and you never know.

"I think both teams have improved since then and we will just try to play our style of football and beat them again."

Torres added that hopes his side can replicate Spain's European success against England by bringing home the country's first world title at U17 after three failed attempts.

"To have won the European Championship was one of the biggest moments in my life and I hope we now win the World Cup," he said. "It's a challenge for us and we know how significant this could be. We have spoken between ourselves, about how this moment will influence the rest of our lives."

Spain and England players vie for the ball during the 2017 Euro U-17 final on May 19, 2017.
Spain's under-17s beat England at the European Championship final in May after a penalty shootout.

Torres has won a lot of admirers with his play for La Rojita, with Real Madrid and Barcelona reportedly keen on the Valencia player.

He has a contract with Los Che until June 2019 and a buy-out clause of €8 million which will reportedly increase to €25m by Jan. 1, 2018 when he is expected to be promoted to the first team.

Asked about the reported interest, Torres told AS: "I'm very flattered because it means that I'm doing the right things but right now, I'm focused on the national team."

Spain U17 coach Santi Denia says he has a magnificent group of players.

"I'm thrilled with this team," he told Onda Cero radio. "We have an ambitious side and we want to go all the way."

Wednesday's 3-1 over Mali allowed Spain to reach the title game for the fourth time in the country's history. The last Spain team to make it to the U17 final was in September 2007, a side that lost to Nigeria and which included Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea.

"No generation has ever lifted this trophy and to win it it's no pressure but rather a challenge and an extra incentive," Denia said. "This is a generation that is doing incredible things. We have been working with them for the last two years, they have talent and they have achieved important things."

While Spain are hoping to bring back the trophy, the players have already had an invaluable experience, according to Denia.

"India is a spectacular country," he said. "We have travelled across it.

"We tell the players how fortunate they are to live in Spain and have the things they have.

"Besides being an extraordinary sporting experience, the life experience is also important. They have been able to see that the day-to-day in India is hard and they have to value where they are from."

Adriana Garcia is a Valencia-based football writer who covers La Liga for ESPN FC.


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