In an exclusive interview with UEFA.com, U21 EURO leading scorer Saúl Ňíguez looks ahead to the final and praises the togetherness of a Spain team seeking to end an era with a famous victory.
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He was the hat-trick hero of Spain's semi-final win over Italy and is on course to finish as the tournament top scorer. For Saúl Ňíguez, though, Spain's success at the U21 EURO in Poland is all about the team. "It's thanks to all my team-mates, and not just the 11 on the field, that I've been able to stand out," the midfielder told UEFA.com as he looked forward to ending an era with a final triumph over Germany.
- Follow build-up to the U21 EURO final live from Krakow
- Analysing the teams' strengths, weaknesses and tactics
UEFA.com: Spain have already had a great tournament. What's the objective now?
The objective having reached this point is to win, and to then celebrate with the whole team because it was a very tough qualifying campaign – we went to the play-offs, we played some must-win games and now we've reached the final phase. We've been almost perfect in this final phase, we've managed to concede only two goals, the first a wonder goal and the second a deflection, so a bit of bad luck.
Conceding only two goals means a lot to the team because it means we're working really well and this is what pleases us most. When it's come to the decisive moments, the team have found this togetherness, this strength and in the end we've managed to overcome everything.
How happy are you with your own contribution?
I'm delighted to help the team because in the end goals help you win, and to get to where we are, but we've still got one last step to take. We can't switch off now.
Which goal best illustrates what you bring to this team?
In the end almost every goal I've scored in this EURO sums up what I'm about – arriving from deep. But if I had to choose one, it'd probably be the shot from outside the box against Italy.
This could be the end of an era for this group of players. Does that give this final extra meaning?
We have to realise it's the last time we're going to put on that Spain shirt, at least at under-age level. We know the senior team is a different world, and we know it's our last time together. That's how we feel about it and why we're enjoying it, because it'd be very strange if you didn't enjoy putting on the Spain shirt. I think the team are expressing that on the pitch.
How do you see the final going?
We're both great teams, and we've even got a similar style to them. We're going to have to show a lot of character, to play our game, and more than anything, work hard. When we work and stick together, our team are very good because we can adapt to any style. We can have the ball when the other team sit back but if they push us back, we have very quick players who can counterattack. We do that very well and with Germany having the same style of play, it might suit us to sit back and hit them on the counter.