Football

The Spain U21 Squad Is Better Than Most Full International Teams

The Spain U21 Squad Is Better Than Most Full International Teams

Over the past few seasons we've heard a lot about the future of French football, and how a new generation of incredible talents hold the potential to dominate international football for the next decade or so, and while that is true for the most part, they are not the only European nation with a frightening batch of youngsters coming through.

Unlike France, Spain actually qualified for the UEFA U21 European Championships currently taking place in Poland, and they made a statement in their opening game with a 5-0 demolition of a Macedonia side that drew home and away with France as they topped their qualification group.

Marco Asensio stole the show with his hat-trick, each goal an absolute peach, but quality of player they have at every position makes it hard to argue that they would not enjoy decent success if they were thrown into senior UEFA qualification.

This is the squad they brought to Poland:

Goalkeepers: Kepa Arrizabalaga, Ruben Blanco, Pau Lopez

Defenders: Hector Bellerin, Jose Luis Gaya, Jorge Mere, Jesus Vallejo, Alvaro Odriozola, Jonny Castro, Alex Grimaldo, Diego Gonzalez.

Midfielders: Dani Ceballos, Saul Niguez, Denis Suarez, Marco Asensio, Mikel Merino, Mikel Oyarzabal, Carlos Soler, Marcos Llorente.

Forwards: Gerard Deulofeu, Borja Mayoral, Sandro, Inaki Williams.

In goal, Athletic Bilbao's Kepa Arrizabalaga got the nod ahead of Ruben Blanco, who will be familiar to most Man Utd fans as he showed what he was capable off with two good performances against Mourinho's side in the Europa League.

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Hector Bellerin is a right-back that would start for most countries and will likely do so for Spain in the near future, and on the other flank they are spoiled for choice with Valencia's Jose Luis Gaya and Barcelona prospect Alex Grimaldo. At centre-back, Jesus Vallejo is expected to break into the Real Madrid first-team after returning from Eintracht Frankfurt on loan while Jorge Mere had an excellent season for Sporting Gijon, which means that once again an impressive Celta Vigo player in Jonny Castro has to settle for a place on the bench.

The midfield really is different class, as in Marco Asensio of Real Madrid and Saul Niguez of Atleti, they have two of the most talented young midfielders in world football, as well as Denis Suarez who made 26 appearances for Barcelona last season. While those are more attack-minded midfielders, Marcos Llorente (who played 31 times for Alaves last season on loan from Real Madrid) and Mikel Morino of Borussia Dortmund offer more protection to the back four.

In attack it's equally impressive, as Spain can opt for a front three including former Everton winger Gerard Deulofeu, the seriously talented Inaki Williams of Bilbao, and the man Everton seem to be on the verge of signing to replace Lukaku in Sandro Ramírez who is coming off of a very impressive season for Malaga.

When you look at the starting XI they can put out, and the subs they could then call upon, it's clear that very few international teams can field a team with players who are regularly playing at a similar level.

They would have been the favourites for the competition going in, and they certainly held onto that tag after their first performance, so let's see if they can go all the way over the coming weeks.

Mikey Traynor

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