The Under 21 UEFA Championship continued yesterday with both Spain and England playing the Czech Republic and Ukraine respectively. After watching both I can safely say that the future is bright for Spain while England are still a long way off from producing some truly tactically aware players. The long ball still seems to be the best option for the young three lions. There did not appear to be much cohesion in midfield. Players tending to hit the ball high to others instead of trying to play the ball to feet. They still have the bulldogish determination that you expect from an England side but this tournament should be used as an opportunity try something different. A 4-3-3 formation for one thing. The back partnership of Chris Smalling and Phil Jones does look solid. Manchester United have two young defenders ready to potentially replace the defensive partnership of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic. It can only help England the more they play together. Daniel Strurridge also showed some flashes of brilliance. Jack Wilshire is missed in the middle of the park as Michael Manncienne is looking some what out of his depth as a holding midfielder.
England getting some instructions about how far too long ball it
Spain however do look very much like a team. Lots of nice inter-change of passing and good off the ball runs. Sometimes the passing isn’t as good as their senior colleges but this really is an educational event for these players. They are sometimes accused of being not that derisive with their possession as well. Spain clearly have a set idea of how they want their sides to play and have forced this philosophy onto every level of their teams. While the results may be important the way they play appears to be more important to them. Tiki Taka is very much going to live on. There are some real jewels in this side that people should look out for in the future. Namely Valencia player Juan Mata, Barcelona’s Thiago Alcântara and their Captain Javi Martínez of Athletic Bilbao.
Spain captain Javi Martínez.