Connect with us

Extra

Spain U21 1-0 Russia U21: Top 3 Players

Spain U21 1-0 Russia U21

Spain U21 1-0 Russia U21

We at OOTB have introduced a new special feature for the U21 European Championship. Many of the players from these tournaments go onto bigger and better things in the future. With the plethora of young talent on show, we will try to compile lists of the best players from each game, to help you keep a better track of the stars of tomorrow. For more detailed Scout Reports on the best young footballers, click here.

It was another tense affair in the Under-21 European Championship, as defending champions Spain, took on Russia. Spain were heavy favourites to win, and for a good reason. Their starting line up boasted of top-quality players like De Gea, Alcantara, Isco, Muniain and so on. Russia, on the other hand, came into the game as underdogs, having lost the last meeting between the two sides 3-1.

As expected, the Russians were very organised, and played the game with a strong tactical base. The defending was excellent, and marking tight, making it difficult for Spain to play. Eventually, the tiki-taka style employed by the Spaniards paid dividends, with their opponents tiring enough to concede a late winner. The drop in concentration was evident, as Alvaro Morata headed in a free kick, much to the dismay of the Russian staff.

It was a fair result, as Spain had dominated proceedings, and Russia were restricted to long range shooting for most of the game, on the rare occasions that they got the ball that is.

Thiago Alcantara

Thiago Alcantara, the talented Barcelona midfielder is captaining the reigning champions in this tournament. In a game that was basically attack versus defence, his passing ability was always going to be crucial to break the opposition down. The Spaniard did not disappoint, creating number of chances for others, and doing so well all across the pitch.

Thiago didn’t stick to any particular area of the pitch or the midfield, but kept moving across the park. He did so in order to stay close to the ball and have the maximum possible influence on proceedings. Along with Asier Illaramendi, he kick-started a lot of moves from the deeper areas of the pitch.

His passing was also highlighted. As a Barcelona player, it’s almost par-for-course for him to be an excellent player on the ball, and sometimes we take this for granted. He hardly made loose passes, and what was important was his creativity and imagination on the ball. He attempted diagonals, through balls, chipped passes, one-twos and many different varieties in order to break through the Russian defence. His skills were also on display, as he tried step-overs and tricks to create space by beating defenders.

The most important moment of the game was, of course, his delivery for the winning goal. An accurate cross from the dead ball situation led to the goal, showcasing how important set-pieces can be, even for tiki-taka masters. Even aside from the delivery in question, he struck a splendid free kick to worry the Russians, and this is a side of the game that can often mean the difference between victory and defeat.

For a detailed Scout Report on Thiago, click here.

Pavel Yakovlev

Russia had a largely quiet game, not seeing much of the ball, barely attacking but so nearly hanging on for a commendable draw. It’s difficult to find a bright spark in a side which has been second best throughout the 90 minutes. But one stand-out individual performance, both in attack & defense, which caught our eye were the exploits of 22-yr-old Spartak Moscow winger, Pavel Yakoklev.

With Russia the weaker of the two teams, they resorted to sitting back and preventing Spanish attacks before moving forward. Yakoklev, who is otherwise an attacker, needed to show his defensive discipline to restrict himself from venturing forward. A task which he performed impressively. He put in a couple of clean sliding tackles, displacing Spanish possession down the right flank. Occasionally the open green ahead tempted him forward and he was content with advancing, ball at his feet, and taking on the Spanish players before being crowded out. He was the primary source of the few counter-attacks the Russians attempted. He largely maintained his defensive discipline, when he did take his chances to close down an opponent in a deeper zone, he came away with the ball. His positioning was impressive too, as he stepped up and showed his maturity, making some vital interceptions along the way.

Yakovlev is best seen running down the left channel, something which wasn’t witnessed much against Spain as his attacking contributions were restricted. But he had his moment and nearly pulled off what could arguably have been a contender for goal of the tournament. He ventured forward and found himself in the centre, some 30-40 yards from the goal. Facing three Spanish players the ball bounced up in front of him, in an almost instant motion he improvised and attempted an audacious volley. It was technical perfection and an outrageous attempt on goal, which was just inches away from beating De Gea in goal.

Asier Illarramendi

On paper, Spain have a team that is as impressive as any other at these Euros. Names such as Isco, Muniain, Thiago, De Gea et al roll off the tongues of most fans of the beautiful game.

While credit must go to Russia, one look at the dominance of possession (a whopping 78%) that Spain enjoyed will give you the impression that Spain should have won by a bigger margin. And this dominance was largely due to the central  midfield axis of Thiago and Asier Illaramendi.

Illaramendi is your typical deep lying central midfielder who defenders love to have in front of them and forwards enjoy playing in front of. As you would expect from Spain, there was an emphasis on playing the ball out from the back. And an integral cog in the Spanish passing machine was the young midfielder from Sociedad. Serving as a fulcrum in midfield, Illaramendi played the deep lying creative midfielder role to perfection. He always moves towards the ball creating space for himself and creating passing opportunities for his teammates. And once he does get the ball, his expert distribution ensures that he more often than not will find a teammate. This was portrayed in today’s game with Illaramendi boasting an impressive pass accuracy of 93%.

What perhaps sets him apart from some of his teammates is his willingness to get stuck in. Watching him play you get the feeling that he enjoys tackling. His strong tackling combined with his assured distribution make him a more than competent central midfielder. Boasting an impressive work rate, Illaramendi does a stellar job in executing a ‘clean up’ job in front of the defence. Another noticeable trait is his aerial prowess. Illaramendi more than held his own in the air against the Russians especially from goal kicks winning 4 aerial duels in the game. Illaramendi has already made his mark at Sociedad and at the U-21 level. He continues to put in performances of this calibre and it will be a question of when and not if he gets a senior call up.

For a more detailed Scout Report on Asier Illarramendi, click here.

Special Mention

Prior to the start of this tournament we prepared a list of players to watch out for. Spanish youngster Alvaro Morata was on that list. The Real Madrid youngster came on for Iker Muniain to make his U-21 debut. A stretching header was his first contribution, and a sweet shot on the turn followed. He proved to be the match-winner scoring late on from Thiago’s cross. His short cameo, although not overly fantastic, was a vital contribution to the 3 points.

Click here to view all our U21 top 3 players’ Tactical Reports

100 to Watch

Latest

Talent Radar1 day ago

La Liga’s 10 Young Breakthrough Players to Watch in 2017-18

Tom Canton lists out the 10 young players to watch in the 2017-18 La Liga season, who could have a...

Tactical Analysis3 days ago

Tactical Analysis: Juventus 2-3 Lazio | Simone Inzaghi exposes Juventus’ 4-2-3-1 weaknesses

Cheuk Hei Ho writes a detailed tactical analysis about the Italian Super Cup final that finished Juventus 2-3 Lazio

Tactical Analysis3 days ago

Tactical Analysis: Arsenal 4-3 Leicester City | Attacking Patterns & Transitions

Kaushik Goswami writes a detailed tactical analysis about the Premier League opener that finished Arsenal 4-3 Leicester City

Talent Radar4 days ago

Premier League’s 10 Young Breakthrough Players to Watch in 2017-18

William Sinsky brings you 10 players that could enjoy breakthrough campaigns in the Premier League this season. It’s back. The...

Tactical Analysis4 days ago

Tactical Analysis: Real Madrid 2-0 Barcelona | Real’s Pressing Excellence

Om Arvind writes a detailed tactical analysis about the Spanish Super Cup second leg that finished Real Madrid 2-0 Barcelona...

Talent Radar5 days ago

Serie A’s 10 Young Breakthrough Players to Watch in 2017-18

Simone Torricini brings you 10 players that could enjoy breakthrough campaigns in the Serie A this season. The Under-20 World...

Tactical Analysis5 days ago

Tactical Analysis: Manchester United 4-0 West Ham | Fluidity and exploitation

Ryan Quinn writes a detailed tactical analysis about the Premier League game that finished Manchester United 4-0 West Ham Following the signings...

Talent Radar1 week ago

Eredivisie’s 10 Young Breakthrough Players to Watch in 2017-18

Mosope Ominiyi brings you 10 players that could enjoy breakthrough campaigns in the Eredivisie this season. Justin Kluivert // Ajax...

Talent Radar2 weeks ago

Primeira Liga’s 10 Young Breakthrough Players to Watch in 2017-18

Jose Miguel Saraiva brings you 10 players that could enjoy breakthrough campaigns in the Primeira Liga this season.

Scout Report2 weeks ago

Scout Report: Ainsley Maitland-Niles | Arsenal’s Versatile Prospect

Mosope Ominiyi provides a detailed scout report on Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Arsenal’s versatile prospect. Arsene Wenger announced that along with 17-year-old winger...

Specials2 weeks ago

Lazio’s Golden Age: The Sergio Cragnotti Era

Football News 24/7  Sam McKeever has a look back at Lazio’s golden era in the 90’s under the ownership of Sergio...

Opinions2 weeks ago

Analysis: Why Nemanja Matic could be Manchester United’s most important signing

Kaushik Goswami has a look at why Nemanja Matic could be Manchester United’s most important signing. Having already lured Romelu...

Opinions3 weeks ago

Monaco’s Moves: Why the Football World should pay attention

While the football world is focused on the players being sold by Monaco, Alex Lynch has a look at how...

Scout Report3 weeks ago

Scout Report: Joel Pereira | Manchester United’s Agile Goalkeeper

Mateus Carvalho provides a comprehensive scout report on Joel Pereira, Manchester United’s agile goalkeeper. At the end of the last season, José...

Talent Radar3 weeks ago

Talent Radar: CONCACAF Gold Cup 2017 | U-23 Team of the Tournament

Football News 24/7  Jose Miguel Saraiva gives us his U-23 Team of the recently concluded CONCACAF Gold Cup featuring the...

Opinions3 weeks ago

Blindside Movements And Mental Overloads: Breaking Down Maurizio Sarri’s Tactics

Cheuk Hei Ho breaks down Maurizio Sarri’s tactics at Napoli looking at how the Italian giants use passing, blindside movements,...

Opinions3 weeks ago

Bayern Munich: What’s their game plan?

Alankrith Shankar writes a detailed article of how we can expect Bayern Munich to set up in the 2017-18 season....

Scout Report3 weeks ago

Scout Report: Juan Foyth | Estudiantes’ Ball-Playing Defender

Kaustubh Pandey provides a detailed scout report about Juan Foyth, Estudiantes’ ball-playing defender. Argentina has, since time immemorial, been a...

Scout Report4 weeks ago

Scout Report: Dayot Upamecano | RB Leipzig’s Precocious Talent

Mateus Carvalho provides a detailed scout report about Dayot Upamecano, RB Leipzig’s precocious talent. RB Leipzig is a source of...

Scout Report4 weeks ago

Scout Report: Philip Billing | Huddersfield’s young midfielder

Patrick Mills provides a detailed scout report about Philip Billing, Huddersfield’s young midfielder. Against the odds, Huddersfield Town, one of the...

Talent Radar Award History

Subscribe via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this site and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Young Player Rankings 16-17

More on Outside of the Boot