Spain's dominance of the UEFA European Futsal Championship has been down in no small part to squad stability, with the likes of Luis Amado and Kike running like a thread through their triumphs for more than a decade. However, on Tuesday two new names caught the eye.
Neither Miguelín nor Aicardo were in the holders' original squad of 14 for the finals in Croatia but injuries in the last week to Fernandao and Pola gave both their major tournament bow. They made their finals debut against Slovenia in Zagreb, Miguelín struck first and then, with the scores level in the second half, Aicardo scored from distance to set up a 4-2 Group B win.
Lobelle de Santiago winger Aicardo, 23, told UEFA.com: "Yes, it's true that in the first game you are more nervous but afterwards you are released from that and you start flying." As for 26-year-old ElPozo Murcia FS pivot Miguelín, he explained: "Decisiveness when the time comes to counterattack is probably one of my greatest strengths."
Both thought back to just a few days ago when coach José Venancio López told them they were coming to Croatia. Miguelín said: "He told me that there were a few people with injury problems or niggles and he said I would be going just to train. I went along and then took advantage."
Aicardo added: "I'm very happy but a bit down at the same time as Pola, a friend of mine and someone who played with me for four years, got injured. I feel privileged to be part of the best national team in the world."
All thoughts are now on Saturday's encounter with Ukraine, when Spain aim to wrap up first place and ensure they do not have to travel to Split for a Monday quarter-final, though Slovenia's display gave them cause to reflect. "Slovenia aren't a big name but we all knew well how difficult it was going to be," said Aicardo, named 2010's best young player in the world by futsalplanet.com.
"They have a great team. They are physically very strong. What's more, opening games are always hard and they had a lot of fans from their country inside the arena. Nerves and the anxiety to win in the first game always have an effect. Right now we are only thinking about Ukraine."
What does not worry the pair is that a change of generations will mean a dip in fortunes for the two-time world champions, seeking a fourth straight EURO title. "We are used to competing every weekend in the best league in the world and we have to demonstrate here that we want to win this EURO," Miguelín stated.
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