Ten talents to track from Under-19 finals
Monday, July 16, 2012
UEFA.com's team of reporters have selected ten players who caught their eye at the 2012 UEFA European Under-19 Championship, including two from champions Spain.
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With the likes of Gerard Piqué, Wayne Rooney and Hugo Lloris having starred in past editions of the UEFA European Under-19 Championship, there is always a good chance of catching an early sight of a future star at the tournament and the latest finals have been no exception. UEFA.com's team of reporters pick out ten players who caught the eye in Estonia.
Jean-Christophe Bahebeck (forward, France)
Can play both on the wing or up front. A product of Paris Saint-Germain FC's youth team, he showed intense bursts of speed that troubled opposition defences and was sorely missed in the semi-final loss to Spain when he limped off injured in the first half.
Bruma (forward, Portugal)
Another example of the fine work carried out by Sporting Clube de Portugal's youth academy, Bruma shone in an attack-minded side that picked up four points in Group A. The 17-year-old winger possesses fantastic close control and pace and his delivery into dangerous areas caused plenty of problems.
Gerard Deulofeu (forward, Spain)
A member of the 2011 squad when La Rojita won their fifth U19 crown, this time around he was his team's most creative outlet, constantly switching from one side of the pitch to the other. When the FC Barcelona winger gets it right few players at this level better him, as he showed when cleverly setting up Jesé Rodríguez for the final winner.
Eric Dier (defender, England)
Strong and agile, the Sporting Clube de Portugal centre-back was a calming presence as England progressed to the last four. Confident in possession, Dier liked to link defence with attack with his penetrative forward passing.
Giorgos Katidis (forward, Greece)
The Greek captain scored three times in the finals, two of which came in the deciding group encounter against Portugal which helped the 2007 runners-up into the last four. An invaluable presence in the semi-final against England when Greece were reduced to ten men.
Karl-Eerik Luigend (midfielder, Estonia)
Estonia's captain and left-sided attacker, Luigend's on-field intelligence and vision were personified in his team's only goal of the tournament when he coolly finished off a flowing move in the 4-1 defeat by Greece.
Nikola Ninković (midfielder, Serbia)
Scored Serbia's only goal, against England, hit the woodwork several times and was by far his side's most dangerous player. Has good positional sense, strength, technique and a keen eye for goal.
Paco Alcácer (forward, Spain)
Came off the bench to score two extra-time goals in last year's final and just as impressive as an impact player in Estonia. Replaced the suspended Jesé against the hosts and found the net before scoring, providing an assist and converting his spot kick in the semi-final shoot-out win against France.
Domagoj Pavičić (midfielder, Croatia)
With a style reminiscent of Luka Modrić, Pavičić was one of Croatia's most creative players and showed some great skills while scoring two goals. Excellent in the middle of the pitch; fast, smart and possesses a good shot.
Kostas Stafylidis (defender, Greece)
The PAOK FC left-back missed his team's opening defeat against Spain through suspension but proved his worth on his return. The attacking full-back caused havoc in opposing defences with his pinpoint crossing and devastating set pieces.
This list has been compiled by UEFA.com's team of reporters in Estonia: Paul Bryan, Vassiliki Papantonopoulou, Elvir Islamović, Mikhail Malkin and Andrew Haslam. The UEFA Technical Team will produce an official squad of the tournament as part of their technical report on the finals.