Winners of the last two UEFA European Under-17 Championships, Spain are finding the going slightly tougher in the 2009 finals, but Club Atlético de Madrid pair Koke and Borja believe the tide is about to turn as they prepare to face Switzerland in their Group A decider on Tuesday.
Despite dominating both their games so far in Germany, Spain only have two points and have yet to score. In the opener, striker Borja had a succession of chances either go agonisingly wide or well saved by Italy goalkeeper Mattia Perin. Another day of frustration followed against France, but the forward feels it is only a matter of time before his side finds the breakthrough. "We need to be patient as we've had so many chances but we have to score – it has been a matter of luck," he said.
Deep-lying midfielder Koke, full name Jorge Resurrección, is the player charged with orchestrating Spain's attacks and his neat build-up play has certainly caught the eye in Germany thus far. He feels it will just take one moment to change the momentum of his country's campaign. "We need to be calm and not worry about it," he said. “We've had opportunities, we just need that first goal." It is a sentiment readily endorsed by Borja, who added: "Once we score, many more will come – we are sure of it."
If the two players show an uncanny level of intuition on the field, it is no surprise, having both come through Atlético's youth system, which last season alone provided two key players in Spain's U17 triumph in Turkey, Keko and Jorge Pulido. "We have played for many years together and it helps when we're away with the national team," Koke said. After winning the last two U17 titles, Spain were expected to be a force again, so what makes them so strong at youth level? "It is the concept and style of our play ever since we were children," Koke added. "Trying to dominate, score and play; the training is very important."
The pair also stated how they were enjoying the championship, although, as Borja admitted, "it is great, but it would be better if we had won". With Spain needing a victory against Switzerland to guarantee a semi-final place, the time could not be more perfect to chalk up that first win and a first goal too.
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