Spanish blueprint

Spain not only has the Under-21 European Champions again but also a footballing blueprint the rest of the world should follow.

Last Updated: 19/06/13 at 14:15 Post Comment

Champions: copy Spanish football and you could be successful, says Steve McClare

Champions: copy Spanish football and you could be successful, says Steve McClare

That was the view of former England coach Steve McClaren as he and former Spanish international Gaizka Mendieta watched the defending champions keep hold of their trophy thanks to a 4-2 win over Italy.

Barcelona ace Thiago Alcantara led the way with a hat-trick, while Isco added the fourth as Spain's Under-21 side took the European crown in Israel to go along with their Under-19 compatriots, who are also European champions, and the senior side who are world and European champions.

And McClaren believes that England - under the guidance of whoever takes over from Stuart Pearce - and indeed the rest of football world, should try and copy what has brought Spain so much success in the last five years.

"They played with tempo, they played with aggression, fantastic technique and were tactically so aware that they were so dominant over Italy and won it deservedly so," he told Sky Sports.

"We've always talked about the Spanish being physically good, tactically good but that winning mentality has been the difference from a side that has under-achieved for years. Now they are totally dominant and that is through mental belief, confidence, the way they play, strength and winning mentality.

"When you look at them physically, mentally, technically and tactically - the four components of being a football team - they have got the compete set.

"Everyone must try to achieve that. Every other country must be watching this, every other coach must be thinking 'this is modern football, this is how football is going'.

"How is it changing? Not just controlling the ball in possession, but also through tempo, through aggression, through being dominant and through mentality.

"All countries need to look at Spain and ask 'What's the away head? What's different? What's their vision and philosophy and what was it 10 years ago compared to now?'. And to look at that and say 'our game must make that change'."

Dropping

McClaren admitted that the trio of Isco, Thiago and Rodrigo would "grace" the Premier League if anyone managed to sign them this summer.

But fellow studio guest Mendieta believes Spain's success is based on the team philosophy, rather than the individual.

He even points to a decision by former Spain coach Luis Aragones, made in 2006, to axe one of the biggest names in the game to rebuild the national approach.

"It probably started 10 or 20 years ago, but we have always tried to play this type of football and believe in it," he said.

"I think that type of football - with the passing and movement - started when Luis Aragones started dropping Raul from the national team. It was such a big decision for him.

"Everyone wasn't very confident in Aragones and he nearly got the sack after a few months in charge but he started to build this style of football in the federation, not just watching the clubs, so the whole academy would try to make their teams play that way."

Mendieta played for the Under-18, Under-20, Under-21 and Under-23 teams and won 43 caps for the senior side, but never won anything at the highest level.

But he is expecting the current crop of youngsters to pick up even more medals - whether they step up into the senior team or stay and defend their European Championship success in two years time.

"You want your players to come through and win things," he said. "There are eight players in this team who will be eligible to play in the next Under-21s so the generations keep coming through.

"It is important to see them coming through."

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