Two unbeaten records go on the line as Group A winners Switzerland – who have yet to concede a goal – face Group B counterparts and title favourites Spain for the Under-21 crown.
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After the highs and lows of a fortnight's football, the UEFA European Under-21 Championship will conclude in Aarhus on Saturday night with the "best final" possible.
This is the view of Switzerland coach Pierluigi Tami who expects the meeting of the Group A and B winners, both of them unbeaten, to provide a fitting denouement in the 16th and last match in Jutland. "I think from what we've seen in this tournament we deserve to be in the final and Spain too. I've seen a few of their games now and they're deserved finalists," said Tami, on the eve of the final. "It is the best final the spectators could have hoped for looking at the competition."
Spain coach Luis Milla concurred with his rival's assessment, describing Switzerland as "the best" team he had seen in the tournament. "They don't take chances at the back, they're quick up front, they're an opponent you have to respect and it's going to be a difficult match."
Milla went on to praise Switzerland's ability to vary their approach, yet added that the Spanish game plan would not change. "They know very well in which areas to play quickly and when to pass the ball around more. But we're going to try to impose our game, with possession and control of the match."
While Spain are seeking a third title from their fifth U21 final, this is the first showpiece for the Swiss yet their confidence could hardly be higher. Not only are they the first side since France – the eventual runners-up – in 2002 to reach the final with a 100% winning record, they are also the first to get there without conceding a goal. However Tami, while acknowledging the "security" brought by skipper Yann Sommer, one of the goalkeepers of the championship, downplayed the significance of this record when he said: "We won't go out on to the pitch looking to protect that, we will go out and try to win the match."
Despite regarding the Spanish as favourites, Tami believes in his team's chances. "We have shown quality in our play, in our approach – we play offensively, we try to do something positive with the ball. I said Spain were the favourites and they still are but in a final both teams have a chance of victory. It is clear when you have two sides meeting with similar styles, the match could be quite tight, but our challenge is to show the good things we've shown in four games so far against a team as strong as Spain."
Granit Xhaka will be available again after his suspension for the semi-final win over the Czech Republic, when Xavier Hochstrasser deputised, and Tami underlined the significance of the teenage midfielder, one of four Swiss players to have lifted the FIFA U-17 World Cup in 2009. "Granit showed a very high level of play especially in the first two matches, he is an important player for us," said the coach.
For his part Milla will likely retain the same lineup for the fourth match running. He sees no reason to change, citing his side's steady improvement. "Tomorrow we're going to be our usual selves, there'll be no changes, because the team has progressed a lot since the first game against England. We've got better in terms of quality and belief, as we showed the other day against Belarus when the team kept believing to the last minute. I hope we'll see the same Spain as in recent days but get the result too."