The Under-21 European Championships were not memorable for England, but Spain followed their senior team’s example strolling to the trophy. Born Offside looks at the best and worst from the tournament…

Best Player

Thiago Alcantara came into the tournament with a big reputation and he only enhanced it with a series of dazzling displays. He earned the man of the match award on three occasions, including the final where he sealed the Spaniard’s triumph with a sublime goal(more on that later.) The diminutive midfielder demonstrated a cool head, crisp passing ability and silky skills that you come to expect from Spanish midfielders nowadays. Along with Arsenal fans, Thiago may be hoping Cesc Fabregas stays at the Emirates to allow him a route into the Barca first team. On this showing he looks more than ready.

Runners Up: Adrian Lopez(Spain) Xherdan Shaqiri (Switzerland)

Golden Boot

Adrian Lopez provided the focal point to Spain’s measured attacking play. He plundered five goals in the tournament after originally being a surprise starter ahead of Barcelona’s Bojan. Adrian demonstrated an array of finishing abilities from powerful shots to bullet headers. He netted the two vital goals that guided Spain past Belarus in the semi final.

Runners Up: 3 gls-Admir Mehmedi(Switzerland) 2 gls- Juan Mata(Spain)

Best Goal

Thiago’s 40 yard free-kick in the final was a goal worthy of winning any tournament let alone any game. The Spanish midfielder spotted Swiss keeper Yann Sommer off his line and powered a looping shot over the stopper and into the net to the adulation of his teammates. Thiago was mobbed as Spain realised they had secured the trophy.

Runners Up: Jeffren vs Belarus, Xherdan Shaqiri vs Denmark

Best Game

Spain had demolished the competition until they hit the resistance of Belarus in the semi final. Andrei Voronkov gave the underdogs a shock 38th minute lead, and the tournament favourites were forced to wait until the final minute of play before grabbing an equaliser courtesy of Adrian. Adrian struck again in extra time as the Spanish turned the tables on the valiant Belarus. Jeffren added a wonder goal and the favourites were into the final. Belarus deserve a special mention for securing an Olympic spot but came just a minute from contesting the final.

Runners Up: England 1-2 Czech Republic (Group B) Denmark 2-1 Belarus (Group A)

Advertisements