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RED DAWN! – Introducing Spain’s next generation Part II | El Centrocampista
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El Centrocampista

RED DAWN! – Introducing Spain’s next generation Part II

The Spanish under19 squad, coached by Ginés Meléndez, secured their country’s fifth European Championship crown at that age group earlier this month, following a dominant tournament in Romania.

The team delighted spectators and pundits alike with their attacking flair and sharp passing and movement, so recognisable whenever the famous red shirt is seen.

The title added to the senior side’s European and World crowns and also complements the European dominance enjoyed by the under21’s last year.

But who are these exciting players waiting in the wings ready to take over from the current crop of world-beating Spaniards?

In the second part of his trilogy on the next generation of Spanish superstars, Sam Hughes introduces the players of Spain’s under19 squad.

GOALKEEPERS:

Edgar Badia

Edgar Badia from Espanyol is a young goalkeeper with great potential.

The young Espanyol goalkeeper is considered the first-choice for the Under-19’s.  He is very much a modern ‘sweeper keeper’.  Quick off his line and alert to any danger, he also possesses quick reactions and wonderful technique.  A naturally talented goalkeeper with plenty of potential.

Adrian Ortola

Similar in both stature and style to David De Gea, the Villarreal goalkeeper is one of the youngest members of the squad at 17 years old.  He was brought to Villarreal’s attention through the Roda de Castellon link up in which the Yellow Submarine has first choice on youth players in the province of Castellon.  His progress at such a young age is highlighted through the call-up to the squad alone.

DEFENDERS:

Daniel Carvajal

Joined Real Madrid in 2002 and has progressed well through the various age groups.  A marauding right wing back with sound defensive awareness, his versatility also allows him to slot in at centre back with ease.  The competitive youngster was a consistent and impressive performer for Real Madrid Castilla last season and will be looking to continue his fine form next year.

Sergi Gomez

Gomez is a powerful central defender who is currently playing his football at Barcelona.  After joining the club in 2006, he made his breakthrough for Barcelona B in 2010 and played a pivotal role in the promotion play-offs.  He is comfortable on the ball, has great positional sense and is a natural leader.  Signed a new contract at the Nou Camp last year, highlighting the promising talent he possesses.

Ignasi Miquel

The cultured Catalonian joined Arsenal in September 2009 and has come a long way in a short space of time.  The central defender made 12 appearances for the reserves and was handed the captains armband towards the end of the season.  He also made two appearances for the first team in the FA Cup.  Strong in the air and well suited to teams that play football from the back.  One for the future.

Jon Aurtenetxe

The Basque defender made an impressive breakthrough into the Athletic Bilbao side last year, making the left back slot his own, before a shoulder injury halted his progress.  In terms of ability, he has everything needed to make it; powerful, quick, hard-working and technically gifted.  Now back from his injury, he is looking to stake another claim for a place in Bilbao’s starting eleven next season.

Albert Blazquez

A promising right-sided defender who is considered one of Espanyol’s brightest prospects.  Strong and organised in defence and quick to attack, his simple but effective use of the ball is seen as one of his main attributes.  He has also been named as captain of Espanyol’s youth side on several occasions.

Jonas Ramalho

Jonas Ramalho broke new ground at Athletic Club when he made his debut.

Ramalho, who is of Angolan descent, became the first mixed-race player to feature for Athletic Bilbao – who only field Basque players.  He also featured in a friendly match with the seniors at just 14 – making him the youngest ever to play for Bilbao also.  A physically imposing player for his age, he can play both right back and centre back.  Expected to feature much more regularly for Athletic Bilbao B next season.

MIDFIELDERS:

Ruben Pardo

An extremely promising creative midfielder from Real Sociedad.  Slightly-built with wondrous technical ability, he is dynamic and purposeful with the ball at his feet.  Possesses an extraordinary passing range and vision for a player of his age.  He isn’t shy in the defensive side of the game either.  Expected to push through the reserves for a first-team place should he progress as planned.

Alejandro Fernandez ‘Alex’

The Real Madrid man cites Xabi Alonso as his favourite player and it is easy to see some similarities.  The main link between defence and attack, the hard-working midfielder probes with intelligent forward passes and intercepts defensively with perfect timing.  He was a regular for Real Madrid Castilla and even made his debut for Real Madrid’s first team last season, coming on as a substitute against Racing Santander.   Expected to continue for Real Madrid Castilla next season with hopes of more first team opportunities.

Pablo Sarabia

Came through the ranks at Real Madrid as a skilful traditional winger before making a move into a more central attacking midfield role in his second season with Real Madrid Castilla.  This proved to be the making of him as he scored 12 goals and became the creative hub of the side.  His performances have earned him a €3million move to Getafe, where he is expected to flourish in the first-team.  Real Madrid have included a buy-back clause in the deal after the second season, showing just how highly rated he is.

Juanmi Jimenez

The youngest player to appear in Primera Division at 16 and Malaga’s youngest ever goal scorer, the attack-minded youngster was instrumental in qualifying for the European Championships.  Dynamic, versatile and a hard-worker, he was awarded a new contract at Malaga until 2014 for his progress.  Expected to push for as much first-team action as is possible following Malaga’s recent takeover and spate of new signings for the coming season.

Jose Campana

The Sevilla midfielder is physically strong, has great first-touch control and superb vision.  Has been able to dominate the midfield for Sevilla youth sides through his sheer quality of passing.  Likened to Xavi of Barcelona by some, in an interview he has – worryingly for Sevilla – expressed an interest in joining a club in England should he not break into the first team.

Juan Muniz

A gifted midfielder from Sporting Gijon’s youth academy.  Muniz became a regular for Sporting Gijon B after making his debut in 2009.  He made his debut for the first team last year, making him the second youngest player to play in the Primera Division for the Asturias club.  Expected to continue learning his trade at Sporting Gijon B for the coming season.

FORWARDS:

Alvaro Morata

Alvaro Morata was top scorer in Romania

A clinical and composed ‘killer’ with strength and a great turn of pace.  The Real Madrid Castilla man – often compared to Fernando Morientes stylistically – was top scorer of the European Championships with 6 goals.  His talent is also highlighted by the fact that he has been the top goal scorer in all the teams he has played for since arriving at the Bernabeu.  The Spanish media even made a case for him to be introduced into the first-team following Gonzalo Higuain’s injury last year, but Mourinho quashed the idea by saying “he’s not prepared to be in the starting lineup of Real Madrid. He needs to grow up and finish his formation with Castilla.”  He is still only 18 and does need to add more to his game before he is ready for the big time, but should he continue his meteoric progress, then it won’t be long before he’s playing in the first team.

Borja Gonzalez

A promising young striker for Atletico Madrid, the 18 year old, who stands at 6 ft 3”, is a solid player and comfortable on the ball with both feet.  He has made 37 appearances for Atletico B, scoring 16 goals showing off his goal scoring ability.  He made his debut for the first team in 2010, coming on as a substitute for Tiago Mendes, but only lasted 20 minutes as he came off with a terrible cruciate ligament injury.   He is still rebuilding his career after the injury and is expected to feature regularly for Atletico B next season.

Francisco Alcacer ‘Paco’

A product of Valencia’s youth system – his hometown club – the striker has proven himself a clinical finisher for Valencia B with 37 goals in 64 appearances since his 2009 debut at 16.  The diminutive striker is a skilful dribbler and extremely quick causing many problems for opposing defences.  Despite his small stature, he is by no means weak and is able avoid physical battles through superior technical ability with both his right and left foot.  At just 17 years old, he is one of the most promising players to come through the youth system at Valencia. The next David Villa?

Gerard Deulofeu

The youngest member of the squad and widely tipped to be the next superstar of Spanish football from the famed La Masia academy at Barcelona.  A left sided attacking midfielder/forward; he is armed with outrageous dribbling ability in one-on-one situations, searing pace and an eye for goal.  His technical ability and body movement is typical of a Barcelona footballer, as is his ability to completely change a game out of nothing.  The elegant and adaptable wonderkid is expected to weave his magic for Barcelona B next season before the inevitable call-up to the first-team.  The conveyor belt continues.




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