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Youthful Spain chases record fourth European Championship


Spain’s team for the future will have a chance to prove how bright the present is as they battle for the nation’s fourth title at UEFA Euro 2024.

Spain remains the only nation to ever defend a European Championship, which they did as part of the major tournament hat trick they achieved with victories at Euro 2008, Euro 2012 and the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.

They were eliminated in the semifinal of Euro 2020 on penalties by eventual champion Italy, and bounced in the Round of 16 of the 2022 World Cup in the same fashion by runner-up Morocco.

In the wake of their failure in Qatar, Luis Enrique was sacked as manager and replaced by Spain’s U-21 coach Luis de la Fuente.

After Spain secured their qualification for Germany with a victory in Norway,  de la Fuente was clear about the youth movement that would power his squad selections.

“We have a team for the future, it’s what I’m most excited about,” de la Fuente said. “We worked hard to be where we are, and we deserve it. We have to enjoy it.”

Perhaps the best example of that ethos is Barcelona’s Lamine Yamal, a 16-year-old who has already made a splash in both La Liga and for the national team.

Yamal, who made 50 appearances for Barcelona in all competitions this year, was named La Liga’s Best Under-23 Player of the Season.

He contributed seven goals and seven assists during the 2023-24 club campaign.

The teenager also showed his wares in Spain’s 3-3 draw in a friendly against Brazil, when his speed earned a penalty that led to their opener and his passing helped create the second goal.

Yamal’s 17-year-old Barcelona teammate Pau Cubarsi will also feature for Spain and has made 22 appearances as a centre back for his club side.

Pedri, who was named Best Young Player at Euro 2020, could be a key part of the Spanish midfield, but has also suffered through injury troubles that have kept him out of the national squad since the 2020 World Cup exit.

Spain Alvaro Morata Rodri
Alvaro Morata and Rodri

Morata and Rodri still key for Spain

While the Spanish youth movement is in full swing, there are also important veterans heading to Euro 2024.

Captain Álvaro Morata from Atletico Madrid has already scored six times for Spain in the European Championship as he is set to make his third appearance at the tournament.

Manchester City’s Rodri proved his worth on a club level by appearing in an astonishing 74 consecutive games without suffering a non-penalty shootout loss, the longest run in European football history.

The 27-year-old was named Player of the Tournament after Spain captured the 2023 UEFA Nations League final.

Spain will have a tough road as they try to become the first nation to capture the European Championship four times as they open Group B play against Croatia and will also have to face defending champion Italy in round-robin play.

If Spain’s young squad is ready to make a deep run in 2024, don’t be surprised to see them listed among the contenders in major tournaments for many years to come.