The Spain Under-21 team thrashed Slovenia (0-3) in Maribor on Wednesday and took a decisive step towards qualifying for the final phase of the European championship. They have two games left to complete the qualifying phase: on Saturday against Italy and on Tuesday against the Czech Republic. Italy’s draw against the Czech Republic (1-1) gives an advantage to La Rojita, who will qualify as first in the group if they win on Saturday. The competition regulations provide that the first and second of each of the four groups involved go to the quarterfinals. The quarterfinals, semifinals and final will be played between May 31 and June 6.
Spain started the game out of place, as is often the case with national teams in these categories, where many of the players meet for the first time and barely have room to train. Under the gaze of Aleksander Ceferin, the UEFA president, who followed his team from the box, the reigning champion of the category wore a pair of midfielders that constituted De la Fuente’s great bet. Zubimendi, the Real midfielder, more vigilant than the centrals, and Gonzalo Villar, the inside of Roma, advancing with more freedom.
The plan was slow to come to fruition. A little because the Spanish were not there, a little because the Slovenians, hosts of the competition, put all their energy into competing with the greatest possible dignity. They went to the limit in every action. The most affected were Zubimendi, who had to retire beaten, and Villar. Upon returning from the break, with more spaces, Puado took advantage of a Cucurella center and a Brahim drop to splice the 0-1. Two minutes later Villar finished off a counterattack that he directed (0-2). Miranda put the last (0-3) with the toe.