The left-back position in the Spanish national side has caused headaches for successive coaches, but a solution now appears to have been found in Jordi Alba.
After coming through Barcelona’s youth system as a left-sided attacking midfielder, Alba departed the club aged 16 to join provincial side UE Cornella. A move to Valencia followed a year later, where he fine-tuned his famed body swerves, speed and lung-busting bursts forward. Upon reaching the first team, coach Unay Emery converted Alba into a left-back, a move which has paid rich dividends.
Vicente del Bosque handed him a debut appearance for La Roja in October 2011 and Alba was included in Spain’s UEFA EURO 2012 squad after just eight international outings. He swiftly made the left-back position his own and was a key member of the title-winning side, crowning an outstanding tournament with a goal in the final against Italy.
That was enough to persuade Barcelona to bring Alba home, where he is developing into a left-back in the classical Brazilian style: an attack-minded defender who gets forward at every opportunity.
The only blot on his copy book came at the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament at London 2012, as Spain fell at the first hurdle and returned home after the group stage.