Having ended the 100% qualifying record of UEFA European Under-21 Championship Group 4 winners the Netherlands, Spain now head to Poland looking to seal a play-off berth themselves.
Held to a 1-1 draw by Finland in August, Luis Milla's side bounced back in impressive fashion on Thursday. A 2-1 victory against the Netherlands, who had won their seven previous fixtures in the section, assured Spain of second place and kept them in the hunt to progress as one of four best runners-up. They conclude their campaign in Grodzisk Wielkopolski on Tuesday.
"It was a decisive game and we managed to get through it and win," Juan Mata, named in the squad alongside fellow FIFA World Cup winner Javi Martínez, told UEFA.com. "
I spoke with Fernando Hierro about helping out and I am here full of hope and just looking to be one more player within the group. We wanted to come into the game against Poland with our options open and we've managed that."
Such collective sentiments were echoed by Martínez. "I really enjoy being with this group of players and I'm going to continue fighting alongside them," he added. "This is the most important game of the year for us and we'll be looking to push for qualification."
Sergio Canales, who opened the scoring against the Dutch, is equally wary of the threat posed by Andrzej Zamilski's side as they seek to secure third place in the pool. "We know it's going to be tricky; everyone wants to beat Spain," the Real Madrid CF player said after making his U21 debut against the Netherlands. "The goal I scored in the last game was a bit lucky to be honest but it came about through a great collective effort."
Spain will be without the suspended Álvaro Domínguez in Poland but are hoping to have Canales available after an ankle knock. The final word, though, goes to Martínez: "We are very motivated to play in the European finals and the prize of appearing at the Olympic Games is something else to aim towards."
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