Spain's U-21 soccer team150.
(photo credit: Reuters)
Unbeaten in 25 competitive matches, a run which includes 23 wins, Spain’s Under-21 national team will be looking to make history at Teddy Stadium on Tuesday night when it faces Italy in the European Championship final.
Spain will not only be hoping to become just the fourth nation to claim back-to back U21 triumphs, but will also be aiming to become the first team since the competition adopted a final tournament group stage format in 2000 to have lifted the trophy after winning every single game.
The Spaniards are already the first side to reach the showpiece without conceding a goal, amassing a combined goal difference of 8-0 over its three group wins and semifinal victory over Norway.
“Italy is a very strong team and I’m expecting a tough match, but I believe that our fate is in our hands,” said Spain coach Julen Lopetegui. “We have the quality to win this final and that is my focus.”
Spain star and Malaga playmaker Isco, who scored his team’s second goal with a sensational solo move in the 3-0 win against Norway, confirmed on Monday that Real Madrid and Manchester City have made offers for his services, but said he will only decide on his future after Tuesday’s final.
When asked about offers from Real and City, the 21-year-old midfielder told Spain’s As sports daily that they were “on the table” adding that: “I know that both Manchester City and Real Madrid are two great clubs. I want what is best for me and for Malaga.”
Nevertheless, Lopetegui was adamant that Isco’s focus will only be on the match on Tuesday.
“Isco plays for the team and not for himself,” stressed Lopetegui. “I’m happy that he is in great form and I’m sure he will help the team and vice-versa.”
Italy was far from convincing in its 1-0 semifinal victory over the Netherlands, but the scorer of the 78th-minute winner, Fabio Borini, believes the triumph proved the Azzurrini’s mettle and feels that will also be the key to defeating Spain.
“That was the most significant goal I’ve scored this season because it means we are through to face a great team in the final,” said the Liverpool forward. “It is especially important for all the guys who are here. We have come through unnoticed. We proved against Holland that anything can happen, even after suffering for 90 minutes.”