Euro Under-21 Team of the Tournament: Thiago & Isco star as Spain dominate

The Spaniards successfully defended their crown in style, which is reflected as six of their players make it into our best team of the competition
An entertaining Euro Under-21 Championship in Israel is at an end after Spain defeated Italy 4-2 in the final as the nation's youngsters continue to replicate the success of their senior side.

After seeing England disappoint in the group stages, the two finalists produced a string of strong performances to reach the last two at the expense of semi-finalists Norway and Netherlands, who also enjoy representation in our best XI.

Here is Goal's Euro Under-21 championship team of Matchday Three, selected in a 4-2-3-1 formation:


Norway's youngsters impressed in the tournament by making it through the group stages without suffering defeat before eventually falling to Spain in the semi-finals. Goalkeeper Orjan Nyland was a key part of their progress to that stage and though he produced his best performance against la Roja, it wasn't enough to keep his side in the competition.

Norway may have lost 3-0 but the damage would have been far worse had it not been for Nyland, who made no less than nine saves in the match to keep his side in with a chance until the closing stages. David de Gea had a better record in terms of goals conceded, but he had far less to do over the five matches and was poor in the final.


Spain's victory at the tournament was certainly an all-round team success and their back four all enjoyed positive performances throughout the victorious campaign.

Full-backs Martin Montoya and Alberto Moreno achieve selection in our team after a string of consistent displays that kept the likes of Dani Carvajal out of contention. Central defenders Inigo Martinez and Marc Bartra narrowly miss out after enduring difficult performances in the final against Italy, but also leave Israel with their respective status' increased.

In our selection, the Italians contribute a member of the back four in the shape of Matteo Bianchetti. Italy's defence had looked very solid right through the tournament until they were undone by Spain, but Bianchetti was the least culpable for that defeat to cap a tournament in which he impressed throughout.

He is partnered in defence by Feyenenoord and Netherlands starlet Stefan De Vrij. Like the rest of his defence, De Vrij was not on top form in the opening clash against Germany but produced a composed performance in the victory over Russia. In the semi-final, he impressed against Italy before he had to be substituted, with the Italians going on to score the only goal of the game moments after he was withdrawn.


Another unsung hero of Spain's success was Real Sociedad midfielder Asier Illarramendi. Sitting at the base of the winners' midfield throughout the tournament, his ability to break up the play and feed his attacking team-mates made him one of the most consistent players on show in Israel.

His captain Thiago was undoubtedly one of the stars of the tournament. Playing in a deeper role, the Barcelona starlet proved why he is one of the hottest commodities in this summer's transfer market by showcasing his outstanding passing accuracy and creative instinct. The only thing lacking up until the final were goals and he more than made up for that against Italy with a sparkling hat-trick in a memorable performance.

Georginio Wijnaldum was a key contributor to Netherlands' progress to the semi-finals. The PSV attacker lit up the group stages with two magnificent solo goals and was a constant threat playing from the right-hand side.

Despite the form of Thiago, it was Isco who was named as Player of the Tournament. The Malaga star is on the move this summer and will have certainly added some value to his price-tag with a string of inspirational displays right through to the final, with his supreme goal against Norway in the semis one of many highlights.

Lorenzo Insigne was decisive in helping Italy to beat England in the opening round of matches and the Napoli talent went on to enjoy a productive tournament for his side as they battled through to the final. After electing to represent the under-21s rather than sit on the bench in the senior squad for the Confederations Cup, the attacker has certainly enhanced his credentials over the last fortnight.


Having been used as both a starter and a substitute over the course of the tournament, Alvaro Morata ended the competition winning the Golden Boot having by scoring four times.

In the final, Morata also showed his creative capacities by creating Thiago's goal to cap an outstanding individual tournament which has seen his stock rise significantly.

He impressed with his off-the-ball movement and finishing throughout the competition. After saying he is now determined to play regular football next season and threatening to leave Real Madrid if the club sign a high-profile striker, the Bernabeu giants certainly have an important decision to make on his future.

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