Spain does not defend neither the game nor the title

Spain was eliminated from the European Under-21 in the semifinals. It was defeated by Portugal, the team that had played the best so far in the competition, in the course of a game as strident as it was pointless. It was resolved with a goal against central Cuenca. It was the right epilogue of an afternoon with the aroma of a summer tournament that ended the defense of the title without the heirs of the great team that won in 2019 managed to catch up.

Mentally and physically exhausted after a hectic season, the most immature players suffer the most to respond to the stress of a tie. This was expressed by the Portuguese and the Spanish as the minutes passed and they began to lose control of the game. If until the break the fate of the game was settled in the midfield, after the interval the actions accelerated from area to area. In an involuntary tribute to college football. The duel turned into a loose succession of transitions. As the players cared less about the result than finishing as it was, in the agitation of the runner there were opportunities for both. More by push and precipitation than by elaborate decantation, Spain lavished on centers and shots from outside the area. Cucurella sent a ball to the post, Manu García demanded the goalkeeper with another powerful shot from 20 meters, Miranda showed off his left-handed long lever, and Brahim missed a cross shot by a span.

The party had lost the compass when Vitor Ferreira, Vitinha, a pale, skinny and sensitive player, he sent a long ball into the space that opened behind Miranda’s back. That’s where Vieira came in, who in his attempt to connect with Tomas sent a pass to the penalty spot. The ball hit Cuenca and slipped into the goal of Spain. It was the jerking conclusion that neither contender probably deserved to win.

A thousand kilometers from the team that won the European Under-21 Championship in 2019, this Spain did not manage to play well throughout the tournament. If attackers such as Oyarzabal and Dani Olmo stood out in that team, capable of interpreting the game between the lines by going down to fly if necessary, it was through the meeting of their midfielders that they became irrevocably superior to all their opponents through ecstatic associations. Roca, Fabián, Ceballos and Fornals made up the nucleus of the current champion. That platoon found no successors in this generation. It happens when in Spanish teams there are too many footballers who don’t even want to smell the ball under pressure.

Only Zubimendi, a midfielder with a true trade, lived up to the needs of the competition. If against Croatia, the disorderly rival that caused so many problems for the Spaniards in the quarterfinals, the Basque exercised universal support, against Portugal his sense of help was insufficient. Zubimendi could not find company when he needed it. Neither Gonzalo Villar nor his friend Manu García appeared to offer him support in a timely manner. If they did it, it was when the pressure of the Portuguese was not drowning them, with the ball facing their faces, and without clarifying the play too much in a context of thickness that Spain could only cope without conceding a blow because their opponent is not as brilliant as their fame.

Strongly backed by their defense, well stocked with lucid and industrious midfielders and armed with forwards who intimidated by their weight rather than their play, Portugal stayed alive without shining against an opponent who moved the ball meekly. Only Brahim and Cucurella shook the shaker because only outside did they find spaces.

Spain faded between the arabesques of Villar and the heels of García, always colorful at specific moments, but rarely specific at all times. His only apology is that the season has been too bumpy for guys so young. May the holidays feel good for you because the call to go to the Tokyo Games may arrive around June.

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