"Incredible," says Oscar Muñoz. He is talking to UEFA.com after taking his first look around Venice where many of the UEFA Regions' Cup players have come for their day off, but similar words have already been used about the Selección Catalana forward at the amateur finals in Italy.
The 26-year-old has emerged as the Spanish representatives stand-out attacking player in the opening two rounds of Group B fixtures, scoring in the 2-0 opening-day win against Belarus and registering again to salvage a 2-2 draw in a tough game against Yugoiztochen Region on Monday. "I am a quick player, good with my head, and I like the physical side of the game," he told UEFA.com. "My favourite player of all time is Ronaldo, but right now Lionel Messi is incredible."
At this level, Muñoz is scoring at a similar rate to the mercurial Argentinian, but he insists that he had not set himself a goalscoring aim for the finals. "The only target I have set is to win the championship," he explained. "To represent Catalonia at amateur level is probably the most I could hope to achieve as a player. It is a massive honour to represent Catalonia."
Catalonia is certainly showing an interest in its sons in Veneto; Toni Almendros's side have had five journalists in attendance from the start of their campaign, including television crews. However, publicity is not going to Muñoz’s head. "We have had attention," he smiled. "But during our game on Monday my father told me that the local sports channel back at home was showing a documentary called Cheeses of Catalonia!"
Whatever attention they get in their home countries, the teams here are all big cheeses at the UEFA Regions' Cup, with superb facilities and serious training sessions helping them to be at their absolute best. "We are learning from each other all the time out here, and I can feel that we are getting stronger," Muñoz said. "The other teams are strong too, and we expect our next opponents on Thursday to be tough."
Thursday is certainly set to be an emotional day. All four sides in Group B can still reach Saturday's final, with Selección Catalana in pole position – they are the only side assured of progress if they beat Olimp Moscow. "We don't know much about them yet," said Muñoz. "But I am sure they will sit deep and try to hit us on the counterattack."
Whether or not Thursday brings more glory for Muñoz – who is studying pharmaceutical engineering while looking for full-time work – he will have memories of the UEFA Regions' Cup that will last a lifetime. "The best thing so far was my first goal for the team and winning the first game, but what we want is the tournament," he said. "It is unique, and a really worthwhile competition. Being here with such a brilliant group of lads – I know I will never forget it."
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