Spain U-21s got their European championship defense off to the perfect start on Wednesday, beating Slovenia 3-0 in Maribor with Brahim Diaz playing a starring role
The on loan AC Milan winger was Real Madrid’s sole representation in the starting 11, Dani Gomez starting the match on the bench. The Spanish dominated most of the possession, but Slovenia certainly had the better chances in a rather dull first half. Outside full back and captain Martin Cucurella, Diaz was the team’s sole bright spot, creating chances for Abel Ruiz from wide and central positions with his close control and dribbling.
After the first half finished scoreless, Spain came out with more purpose to the start the second 45 and eventually opened the scoring in the 52nd minute. After some good attacking play from the Spanish, it was Brahim’s deft touch to bring down a cross that set up Javi Puando for a half volley outside the box that rocketed into the corner. Seconds after the first went in, Spain had a second, this time thanks to Guillem Villar who diverted Cucurella’s cross into the net.
Brahim probably should have had a goal of his own, but his sweeping finish was blocked by a ragged Slovenia defense and he couldn’t divert home the rebound from close range. The game lulled after Spain’s second with Slovenia having at least two chances to get back into the game after Spanish errors, but couldn’t capitalized.
A one-two play with a minute of regular time allowed Juan Miranda to seal a dominant, if a little deceptive, 3-0 win. As well as Diaz’s impressive performance, Dani Gomez also got a short eight minute cameo in which he was denied by the goalkeeper. Spain play Italy in their next game on Saturday followed by their final group stage match against the Czech Republic on Tuesday.
The knockout rounds are scheduled to be played at the end of May and, should Spain reach that phase, they will drawn against either the winners or runner ups of Group D depending on where Las Rojitas finish. Group D contains Portugal, Croatia, England and Switzerland.