Spain
© AFP

The past
Spain are anything but newcomers to the FIFA U-20 World Cup. Turkey 2013 will be La Rojita’s 14th appearance at the tournament, having only missed out on four editions. For all that, Spain have only once claimed the title, at Nigeria 1999, with a side containing the likes of Iker Casillas and Xavi Hernandez. On two other occasions, USSR 1985 and UAE 2003, the Iberians finished second on the podium, with the latter event notable for some dazzling displays by another great midfielder, Andres Iniesta.

The present
Spain will arrive at Turkey 2013 as one of the favourites for the title after their impressive triumph at the UEFA European U-19 Championship 2012. There, under the tutelage of Julen Lopetegui, they saw off all comers using a style similar to that of the country’s senior team. The cornerstones of their play were once again short passing and possession, a style underpinned by the technical skills of players like midfielder and chief orchestrator Oliver, and wide men Gerard Deulofeu and Jese, who finished the European Championship in Estonia as top scorer.

The future
Again with Lopetegui at the helm, Spain have high hopes for Turkey 2013. At the very least, they will be aiming to improve on the quarter-final berth they managed at the last edition in Colombia, where they crashed out to eventual champions Brazil. In this quest, Lopetegui can count on the majority of the squad that won the European title.