Either Ignacio Camacho or Jordan Spence will lift the UEFA European Under-17 Championship trophy this evening when they captain Spain and England in the final in Tournai and there is plenty of mutual respect for each others' teams.
Camacho's Spain defeated Spence's side 3-2 in a Belgian-hosted tournament in October, and the pair are predicting another tight encounter. "It was a really tough game," the Club Atlético de Madrid midfielder told uefa.com. "We have watched a video of them and they have good, good players. It will be difficult to overcome them but we are not afraid."
West Ham United FC defender Spence, who like Camacho has been in fine form in these finals, added: "Spain were the better team on the night [in October], we feel we had a lot more in us then and have moved on a lot. I'm sure they would say they possibly have as well."
As the team leader, Camacho is in constant communication with Spain coach Juan Santisteban, and the relationship appears quite intense. "I manage the game on the pitch," Camacho said. "The coach has a lot of confidence in me, that is why he is always on to me as I need to manage people to get them into the right place. That is also why he quarrels with me but it is not really a quarrel. I'm more than happy to take this role as it gives you the route to the trophy."
Spence, meanwhile, has had to coax his men through some tough situations, especially as the injuries piled up in the decisive 4-2 group win against the Netherlands, as well as the tense 1-0 semi-final defeat of France. "We deserve to be [in the final] for the way we've played and the way we've come through adversities in certain games," Spence said. "It's not been an easy one but we were capable of getting here and certainly pleased we are."
Many players have gone on from fine U17 performances to senior stardom, not least Spanish internationals Cesc Fabregas, Andrés Iniesta and Fernando Torres, recent finalists all. "It's a dream of mine to reach their level," Camacho said. "It I reach only half that level I will be happy. Fabregas, Iniesta and Torres are already stars. They will always be a part of the story of football. I'm working and battling every day to reach that level but it is far away now."
While Camacho admits Spain will "miss" suspended defender Pichu, Spence's team will be without injured midfielder Henri Lansbury. The England captain will also have to keep a close eye on Spain's talented forward Bojan Krkić, who struck twice against England in the autumn. "He was an excellent player," Spence said. "[But] we are not just focusing on one player, we have got to go out there and focus on our game, and the fact they have eleven good players out on the field."
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