Marco Asensio exclusive: 'This is a growing-up process'

"We'll try to perform as well as possible and bring the trophy home," said Spain U21 forward Marco Asensio, outlining his side's ambitions to UEFA.com ahead of the showdown with Portugal.

Marco Asensio after scoring against FYR Macedonia
Marco Asensio after scoring against FYR Macedonia ©AFP/Getty Images

The day after his hat-trick feat against FYR Macedonia, Real Madrid striker Marco Asensio sat down with UEFA.com to discuss life in the Spain camp and Tuesday night's Group B showdown with neighbours Portugal.

UEFA.com: A hat-trick in a 5-0 looks like a perfect start for you, but now Spain face Portugal. Is this match the key to reaching the semi-finals?

Marco Asensio: Correct. The second game against Portugal is very important for us. They also won their opening match. It's important to have scored five in our first match and that we didn't concede, but you never know what can happen in the next matches, so we need to focus on our game against Portugal and try to win. Only after that can we think further ahead.

How do you deal with the intensity of being together all the time – it's not what you are used to with your clubs. Is it a family atmosphere?

Yes. We all get along very well off the pitch and that's very important, because we're together every day. We're almost a family, like you said. We have lunch together, everyone has a room-mate, and we train together. It's very important that we have a good atmosphere in the team, because that's then reflected on the pitch.

Asensio and the other U21 hat-trick heroes
Asensio and the other U21 hat-trick heroes

Who is your room-mate and how did you two end up together?

It's Dani Ceballos. We've been friends since our days with the U19s and room-mates since we met. We were U19 European champions and have been together since then, and now with the U21 national team too.

Does the fact that you get along well improve your relationship on the pitch?

Yes. It depends on the relationship you have with your team-mates, but I get along very well with Dani. He's a very good friend of mine. I have football to thank for that, and we also get on very well off the pitch too.

The two of your were together with the U19s and now the U21s. How important are these experiences for a young player?

Asensio was the star of the show against FYR Macedonia
Asensio was the star of the show against FYR Macedonia©AFP/Getty Images

You only get to experience these things once – both the U19 championship and the current U21 EURO. It's very important to make the most of these chances. It's also very difficult to get to play in this tournament because we had a tough time qualifying over the last two years. I think it's a growing-up process, but the team have improved along the way and now we're in this tournament we'll try to give our best, to perform as well as possible, and bring the trophy home. Why not?

Finally, looking at the Portugal game, should we expect an open match given thet they also play with real width, with attacking full-backs?

Yes. Portugal are a very powerful team. They have great players, and we'll see how we perform. We need to focus only on ourselves and play our own game, with the same philosophy we showed against the Macedonians, and to be clinical up front. Apart from that, we'll try to control the ball and dictate the game, like we've been doing in all our previous matches. We don't have to change anything just because we're playing against Portugal.

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