The official website for European football

Spanish confidence built on passing tradition

Published: Saturday 11 June 2011, 20.45CET
Spain defender Mikel San José regards England as a genuine threat to his team's ambitions yet is confident of success as long as Luis Milla's men adhere to their purist principles.
by Guillermo G Honrubia
from Herning
Spanish confidence built on passing tradition
Mikel San José, pictured right in action for Athletic Club, believes in Spain's winning style ©Getty Images

Tournament statistics

SpainEngland

Goals scored11
 
2
Attempts on target22
 
13
Attempts off target35
 
18
Corners24
 
12
Fouls committed76
 
31
Yellow cards13
 
6
Red Cards0
 
0

Media services

Published: Saturday 11 June 2011, 20.45CET

Spanish confidence built on passing tradition

Spain defender Mikel San José regards England as a genuine threat to his team's ambitions yet is confident of success as long as Luis Milla's men adhere to their purist principles.

Spain's opening game of this UEFA European Under-21 Championship against fellow Group B heavyweights England has all the makings of a classic encounter.

Yet even if it fails to serve up one of the tournament's most thrilling encounters, Sunday's match in Herning will at least provide a gauge of both teams' prospects.

Spain centre-back Mikel San José, for one, expects to see at first hand a top-quality England outfit. "This England side are going to be very strong despite a handful of absences. They have very good players, they have fast forwards and they are physically tough. You can't discount them," said the defender, who rejoined Athletic Club in 2009/10 after a two-year spell in English football with Liverpool FC.

Whatever the opposition, though, the No5 believes Luis Milla's men will have only themselves to blame if they fail to deliver on their promise here in Jutland. "I honestly think the biggest factor is ourselves," said the 22-year-old from Pamplona. "If we play well, it will be difficult for any team to beat us. No other team at this tournament would be able to produce the kind of football we are capable of."

It will nonetheless be important, San José stresses, for Spain to stick to their purist principles if they are to succeed. "To play like our senior team does will be difficult, but we have players who are comfortable on the ball – even the goalkeepers can play," he said. "Yes, there are moments in a game where you have to adapt your style, but we intend to play football and to take advantage of the possession we get by making chances."

He may be a goalkeeper yet Rubén Miño is especially well acquainted with the tiki-taka style of pass and move, being a graduate as FC Barcelona's school. The Spain and Barcelona B custodian is a firm advocate of a footballing brand that has produced spectacular results for his club and country at senior level.

"We have lads from Barça or Villarreal who play this way and I know we can deliver that kind of football at this championship," the 22-year-old said. But will Spain's billing as a tournament favourite weigh too heavily on young shoulders? "We don't feel under pressure to perform," Miño countered. "The fact other big nations didn't qualify makes this a great opportunity for us to win the competition. But England are one of our strongest rivals and it is possible that these teams will meet again in the final."

Last updated: 11/06/11 23.20CET

http://www.uefa.com/under21/season=2011/matches/round=2000002/match=2003390/prematch/focus/index.html#belief+strong+spain+camp

  • © 1998-2014 UEFA. All rights reserved.
  • The UEFA word, the UEFA European Under-21 Championship logo and trophy are protected by trade marks and/or copyright of UEFA. No use for commercial purposes may be made of such trade marks. Use of UEFA.com signifies your agreement to the Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy.