On Friday Spain will be playing for third place rather than a record-equalling third UEFA European Women's Under-17 Championship title but as they do so they will be playing with a style of football that has become synonymous with Spanish teams at all levels.
Jorge Vilda's team, who were U17 winners in 2010 and 2011, were beaten on penalties in the semi-finals against Sweden on Tuesday. That was despite outshooting their opponents 22 to three in a game where they passed the ball around with a confidence beyond their young years.
"We did what the coach told us to – circulate the ball well against the other teams, because body-against-body, we cannot fight them that way," said captain Marta Turmo. "hey are very strong physically and good in the air. We did what was needed, because it was best to play the ball around. We had opportunities and attacked from the wings many times, but then with penalties it's just a lottery."
That short passing style and fluid movement is a staple of Spanish teams in the modern era and is something that is drilled into the players from a young age. "Yes, we have the same kind of football as the senior side, we play the ball from the back, little by little, passing the ball and we always get our chance in the end," said Turmo.
"Our game is based on passing the ball. We know that in a physical sense our strikers are 1.50m tall and we were up against players that were close to 1.90m tall, but by passing the ball in the end we created a lot of chances against Sweden."
Spain have a chance to end the tournament on a positive note in the third-place play-off against Belgium and it is an opportunity that Turmo is determined they make the most of. "Well, in football you get certain chances," she said. "This is our chance now, and we have to make the most of it. We have to continue playing with our philosophy, not change anything, and show that playing how we know how to play we can win."
Central defender Turmo, who plays her club football at Spanish champions FC Barcelona, has rose to the challenge of lifting her team-mates for the Belgium match in her role as captain: "I like to assume these responsibilities and I know I have to make the team arrive on Friday with a clear head, leave behind what happened on Tuesday, and little by little we are regaining our composure in order to play as well as we can on Friday, which we will treat as another final."
"We've spoken to the girls in the senior team and they told us many times that we should enjoy these moments, that perhaps this will be the only finals tournament that we will qualify for and that these are experiences that will be remembered later on."
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