Spain Under-21 success show huge potential


Spain’s Under-21 side deservedly lifted the European Championships trophy this summer. They defeated their German counterparts 2-1 in the final and thus extracted revenge for their loss to the same opponents in the showpiece two years prior. Following an opening day loss to Italy, La Rojita excelled throughout and once again illustrated the bright future of the Spain national team.

Whereas in 2017 the player of the tournament was midfielder Dani Ceballos – who was once again starred this time out – it was his former Real Betis teammate Fabian Ruiz, now at Napoli, who took the main plaudits. His outings were a tour de force and showed why he is developing into what can be described as a ‘complete midfielder’ in the south of Italy.

The two Seville natives could well form the bedrock of the Spain national team’s midfield in years to come. It is easy to forget that this was an Under-21 side without Rodri – the Atletico Madrid midfielder who Manchester City and Bayern Munich wish to spend €70m on – or Real Madrid forward Marco Asensio, touted not so long ago as one of the emerging elite young players.

But this was about much more than the two former Betis boys. Espanyol midfielder Marc Roca displayed why he is surely destined to earn a big-money move in the not too distant future, with the trio’s performance keeping new West Ham United signing Pablo Fornals from gaining a run in the team.

Captain Jesus Vallejo – who was lucky to escape a red card in the final – has a potentially massive future in the game, but must surely, like Ceballos, seek opportunities elsewhere if Real Madrid do not afford them to him. Real Betis wing-back Junior Firpo – of Dominican descent – could be the long-term successor to Jordi Alba for the senior side, and potentially Barcelona too.

Valencia midfielder Carlos Soler has always been linked to bigger clubs but another two players who really deserve more of a spotlight are both those further forward. Dinamo Zagreb winger Dani Olmo – formerly of Barcelona’s youth system – really shone and grabbed a deserved goal in the final. The Croatian-based player is now attracting the attention of Europe’s elite. Real Sociedad forward Mikel Oyarzabal looks set to have his long-term future in the Basque Country, but his talent and potential appears to be even greater.

The Spanish national team’s next wave of success cannot be too far away after landing their record fifth Under-21 crown.

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