Spain's De Gea not taking Denmark lightly

Spain keeper David de Gea warns the holders they will need to be at their best to see off the challenge of Denmark in the teams' UEFA European Under-21 Championship play-off.

David de Gea will be part of the Spain side looking to overcome Denmark
David de Gea will be part of the Spain side looking to overcome Denmark ©Getty Images

As holders Spain prepare for Thursday's UEFA European Under-21 Championship play-off first leg against Denmark in Burgos, captain David de Gea is hoping their return to the Municipal El Plantío to face the 2011 hosts will be a good omen. 

The Manchester United FC goalkeeper played an important role in helping Spain to a 2-1 win against Croatia in the first leg of their 2010 U21 eliminator, also held in the northern Spanish city. That victory – played in front of 14,000 supporters – proved the launch pad for a run that ended with Spain collecting their third title at this level following a final triumph against Switzerland in Aarhus. 

"It's going to be a real pleasure playing in front of those fans again," De Gea said ahead of the encounter with Morten Wieghorst's side. "I hope it will be a similar outcome to two years ago but we aren't taking anything for granted. We know we must be at 100% if we are to take a good result to Denmark for Tuesday's return leg."

Despite both teams emerging unbeaten from their qualifying round groups, the former Club Atlético de Madrid No1 said neither could feel satisfied until they had completed their progress to next summer's finals in Israel. "Knowing that Denmark didn't lose a single game to get here makes us realise what we are up against. It's going to be difficult," the 21-year-old said. "We want to win at home; we want to go to Denmark with a result that will allow us to keep calm. We are starting from zero and whatever we did in qualification doesn't count."

Coach Julen Lopetegui – who succeeded Luis Milla in August – was in charge when Spain won the UEFA European U19 Championship last summer, and he will have to do without that tournament's top scorer, Real Madrid CF striker Jesé Rodríguez, because of a muscle strain. Club-mate Álvaro Morata has been called in to deputise while Málaga CF midfielder Ignacio Camacho is another late addition due to fitness doubts surrounding Club Atlético de Madrid's Koke and FC Barcelona's Cristian Tello. 

Accepting that "playing the second leg at home would have been better", skipper De Gea is nonetheless looking to "start Thursday's opening game in Burgos at full tilt", just as Spain did at the same venue two years ago.

Spain squad
David de Gea (Manchester United FC), Diego Mariño (Villarreal CF).

Martín Montoya (FC Barcelona), Carles Planas (FC Barcelona), Marc Bartra (FC Barcelona), Nacho (Real Madrid CF), Íñigo Martínez (Real Sociedad de Fútbol), Jordi Amat (Rayo Vallecano de Madrid).

Iker Muniain (Athletic Club), Koke (Club Atlético de Madrid), Sergi Roberto (FC Barcelona), Oriol Romeu (Chelsea FC), Pablo Sarabia (Getafe CF), Isco (Málaga CF), Asier Illarramendi (Real Sociedad de Fútbol), Ignacio Camacho (Málaga CF).

Álvaro Morata (Real Madrid CF), Christian Tello (FC Barcelona), Rodrigo (SL Benfica), Álvaro Vázquez (Getafe CF), Gerard Deulofeu (FC Barcelona).

Denmark squad
Frederik Rønnow (AC Horsens), Nicolai Larsen (Aalborg BK).

Alexander Juel Andersen (AC Horsens), Daniel Høegh (Odense BK), Jacob Ahlmann (Aalborg BK), Jannik Vestergaard (TSG 1899 Hoffenheim), Mads Fenger (Randers FC), Mark Gundelach (FC Nordsjælland), Mathias Jørgensen (PSV Eindhoven), Mikkel Kirkeskov (AGF Aarhus).

Kasper Kusk (Aalborg BK), Mads Albæk (FC Midtjylland), Thomas Delaney (FC København), Anders Christiansen (FC Nordsjælland), Andreas Laudrup (FC Nordsjælland), Emil Larsen (Odense BK).

Martin Braithwaite (Esbjerg fB), Nicklas Helenius (Aalborg BK), Simon Makienok (Brøndby IF), Viktor Fischer (AFC Ajax).