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Vilda sets out Spain stall

Ángel Vilda's Spain were runners-up last year and now aim to go one better under their old coach's 28-year-old son Jorge, who told UEFA.com about the competition's importance.

Spain face the Netherlands in the semi-finals
Spain face the Netherlands in the semi-finals ©RFEF

Last year Spain, coached by Ángel Vilda, made it to the UEFA European Women's Under-17 Championship final only to suffer a 7-0 defeat by Germany. A year on, under Vilda's son Jorge – a former youth player with FC Barcelona, Rayo Vallecano and Real Madrid CF before his career was cut short by injury – Spain have again made it to the finals in Nyon and, as they prepare for Tuesday's last-four tie with the Netherlands, the 28-year-old coach spoke to UEFA.com.

UEFA.com: What are your objectives going into this the finals?

Jorge Vilda: The main objective is to qualify for the [FIFA U-17 Women's] World Cup. There are three teams who will reach that tournament on the back of winning one game so we will be looking to win our semi-final or the third-place play-off.

UEFA.com: Spain reached the final of this tournament the last time out; does that experience of that help?

Vilda: There are five or six players who have competed at this stage before and, as always, having gained that experience and knowing how the competition works gives certain advantages.

UEFA.com: What do you know about the Netherlands?

Vilda: They have improved a lot. They have increased their number of female players and there are many teams in the women's leagues there. You can see their quality based on the infrastructure they have and the level of competition.

UEFA.com: Do you think that Germany are going to win it again?

Vilda: Without doubt they are the big favourites. They have almost a million registered female players, more than any other team. They have a very broad base and the structure of their domestic league is spectacular.

UEFA.com: Do you think that these types of tournament are important for players' development?

Vilda: It's extremely important. These are girls from all over Spain who are coming together so as well as everything else it strengthens them as a group. Furthermore, leaving their country, meeting girls from other nations and finding out about leagues that are bigger than their own all represent an important learning curve.

UEFA.com: How do you keep up to date with the form of the players all over Spain?

Vilda: There are six of us working within the women's game on a full-time basis for the Royal Spanish Football Federation. We also get help from the coaches of the autonomous communities within the country. We travel to see games every weekend so with these various methods we try to keep all of the players in check. We'd like to be able to cover more but as Spain is such a big country this is impossible.

UEFA.com: Can you pick out two or three players and tell us why they are so important to the squad?

Vilda: Ana Sáenz de Pipaón, a strong central defender who is good in the air and solid in her defensive duties. Marina García Portillo, a midfielder who is technically gifted and rarely loses possession. Raquel Pinel Sáez, a forward with a strong shot and the ability to play with her back to goal.