Kings of Europe: Spain extend their remarkable record of success after Under-19 win
‘La Rojita never fail’ reads the bold headline on AS this morning after Spain triumphed at the European Under-19 Championship.
The experience of last summer’s World Cup in Brazil shows this to be an optimistic reading of the situation, but in European terms it’s only a minor piece of over-exaggeration on the part of the Madrid-based sports paper.
Because Spain’s victory in Greece was the eight time they have triumphed in the U19 finals, and the 23rd time they have been crowed champions of Europe in all age groups combined.
Germany, their nearest rival, have a total of 11. It is a huge gulf.
Here is Spain’s remarkable roll of honour:
Under-17 champions (8): 1985-86; 1987-88; 1990-91; 1996-97; 1998-99; 2000-01; 2006-07; 2007-08
Under-19 champions (8): 1994/95; 2001/02; 2003/04; 2005-06; 2006-07; 2010-11; 2011-12; 2014-15
Under-21 champions (4): 1984-86; 1996-98; 2009/11; 2011-13
Senior champions (3): 1964; 2008; 2012
As reporter Sergio Santos Chozas captured Spain’s latest triumph in memorable terms in his piece for the paper on Monday morning.
" ‘We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit,’ said Aristotle. The words of the great Greek philosopher could be applied to this U19 squad, which coincidentally and somewhat appropriately won their seventh European title on Greek soil. They’ve now won seven championships in fourteen years. That’s absolute domination for you."
Russia were dispatched 2-0 in the final, with a glorious pass from Real Madrid youngster Marcos Asensio putting through Matias Nahuel for a tidy finish to finish things off.
So who are the big talents from this team who could make a name for themselves in the coming seasons?
Asensio is a fantastic playmaker who also produced this brilliant little pass earlier in the tournament:
But tournament top scorer Borja Mayoral, who claimed the opening goal of the final, is also a big talent and similarly plays at Real Madrid. He scored three times at the finals.
And Real Betis starlet Dani Ceballos is also one to watch. He pulled off an audacious nutmeg in the final last night which demands repeat viewing.
So what lies behind Spain's remarkable European success? We asked our Spanish office for their thoughts on the matter.
Jose Luis Prado told us: "Spain has worked very well with the lower grades for a long time. All our teams have the same idea of the game. And we have also been lucky to have great generations of players. Moreover, with the economic crisis, many teams in the first and second division are giving opportunities to their young players."