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Back-to-back wins give Spain fresh surge of belief

Following a second convincing win in five days – 3-1 against fellow finalists Russia – Spain's Sergio Canales and Thiago Alcántara assessed the holders' chances in Israel in June.

Back-to-back wins give Spain fresh surge of belief
Back-to-back wins give Spain fresh surge of belief ©UEFA.com

A fresh surge of belief resounded through the Spain camp after they overcame Russia 3-1 in their final friendly before the UEFA European Under-21 Championship in Israel.

Russia – who will meet the defending champions in their Group B opener in Jerusalem on 6 June – were defeated thanks to goals from Rodrigo, Iker Muniain and Thiago Alcántara. The result completed a successful warm-up period for Spain who enjoyed their second victory in five days following Thursday's 5-2 triumph against Norway.  

Recently restored to the Spanish set-up after a long-term knee injury, midfielder Sergio Canales was clear about his country's chances this summer. "Our objective is to win. We will go there with desire and confidence, and hopefully will bring the trophy home," the Valencia CF player told UEFA.com. 

A figure of authority for coach Julen Lopetegui this week has been FC Barcelona schemer Thiago, deputising as captain with goalkeeper David de Gea receiving a senior call-up. "We'll be going to the championship with a good feeling in the group. Our team is at a very high level," said the veteran of Spain's U21 success in Denmark two years ago, who scored in the Aarhus final.

"We had been missing the type of result where we had to come from behind – to really fight back in a game – but in the friendly against Norway we did that in style," the 21-year-old added of a team that dropped only two out of 24 available points in qualifying, before beating the Danes home and away in the play-offs. 

Wigan Athletic FC goalkeeper Joel Robles – who started Monday's match in Alcorcon, near Madrid – agreed about last week's Norway game, saying: "Despite conceding after just 18 second in Toledo we responded really well. These things happen in matches from time to time and it has happened to me before, but the most important thing was that the team responded. In our next move Cristian Tello scored and from there we began to grow."

Sevilla FC full-back Alberto Moreno, meanwhile, made his full U21 debut against Russia – who will be joined in Group B by Germany and the Netherlands –  and said he was made to feel at home in a dressing room eager for further glory. "My team-mates filled me with a lot of confidence before the match and also out on the field," he told UEFA.com. "As a marker ahead of Israel, I thought we did really well and we are all happy because of that."