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Published: Sunday 1 January 2012, 18.07CET
Winners for the fifth time in 2011, Julen Lopetegui's Spain served notice of their intent with three successive 2-1 wins in the elite round, six different players scoring their goals.
Spain celebrate their victory against Armenia ©Roberto Ricciuti/
Published: Sunday 1 January 2012, 18.07CET


Winners for the fifth time in 2011, Julen Lopetegui's Spain served notice of their intent with three successive 2-1 wins in the elite round, six different players scoring their goals.

After receiving a qualifying round bye, the 2011 winners, and five-time champions, enjoyed a perfect elite round record with Juanmi and then Jesé Rodríguez responsible, scoring late goals to see off Armenia and mini-tournament hosts Italy, both 2-1. Their presence at the finals already assured, La Rojita completed their section with a third 2-1 win against Belgium.

Real Madrid CF central defender Derik Osede is a commanding presence at the back while in midfield Julen Lopetegui's side look to unbalance their opponents with the trickery of FC Barcelona's wide midfielder Gerard Deulofeu and Madrid's powerful attacker Jesé Rodríguez. Paco Alcácer's goals helped Spain to tournament victory last year and the Valencia CF striker will look to play an important role again in Estonia.

"We achieved qualification for these finals on the back of a huge effort, sacrifice and the ability to overcome difficulties. We didn't expect to qualify after just two matches but we did so while achieving our goal which was the most important thing," said coach Lopetegui.

Qualifying round: Bye

Elite round: Armenia 2-1, Italy 2-1, Belgium 2-1 (Group 7 winners)

Key players: Derik Osede (defender, Real Madrid CF), Jesé Rodríguez (midfielder, Real Madrid CF), Gerard Deulofeu (winger, FC Barcelona), Paco Alcácer (forward, Valencia CF)

Coach: Julen Lopetegui
Date of birth: 28 August 1966
Nationality: Spanish
Playing career: Real Madrid CF, UD Las Palmas, CD Logroñes, FC Barcelona, Rayo Vallecano
Coaching career: Real Madrid Castilla, Rayo Vallecano, Spain Under-20s, Spain Under-19s

A native of the Basque country, Lopetegui's promising goalkeeping performances for Real Sociedad de Fútbol's youth sides led to a move to Real Madrid aged 19. After failing to earn a regular place at the Santiago Bernabéu, Lopetegui changed to Logroñes where he made 107 league appearances over three seasons. Another big move to Barcelona led to more frustration for the keeper, a peripheral figure in the team, prompting a switch to Rayo Vallecano where he played 112 times until his retirement in 2002.

The 45-year-old earned one senior international cap during his playing career and was part of Spain's 1994 FIFA World Cup squad. Following coaching roles with Real Madrid Castilla and a short spell in charge at Rayo, Lopetegui accepted the call from the Royal Spanish Football Federation. Having led the Under-19s to last year's finals in Romania, Lopetegui missed the tournament as he was guiding Spain to the quarter-finals of the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Colombia, but returned to oversee another successful U19 qualifying campaign this season.

Team facts

Qualifying top scorer
Six players with 1 goal

UEFA European Under-19 Championship best
Winners 2002, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2011
Runners-up 2010

Honours in UEFA youth competitions
UEFA European Under-18 Championship
Winners 1995
Runners-up 1996

UEFA European Under-17 Championship
Winners 2007, 2008
Runners-up 2003, 2004, 2010

UEFA European Under-16 Championship
Winners 1986, 1988, 1991, 1997, 1999, 2001
Runners-up 1992, 1995

International Youth Tournament (U18)
Winners 1952, 1954
Runners-up 1964

Other honours
FIFA U-20 World Cup
Winners 1999
Runners-up 1985, 2003

FIFA U-17 World Cup
Runners-up: 1991, 2003, 2007

Last updated: 09/06/12 12.37CET

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