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Friday 27 January 2023 Dublin: 6°C
# Young Guns
5 players to look out for in the U21 European Championships final
Reigning champions Spain face Italy in the tournament decider in Israel later today.

JERUSALEM’S TEDDY STADIUM hosts this evening’s U21 European Championships final between reigning champions Spain and four-time winners Italy (5pm kick-off).

Both teams have been impressive en route to the final – La Roja swept aside Russia, Germany, The Netherlands and Norway while the Azzurri overcame England, hosts Israel and the Dutch.

Here are the players to keep an eye on.

Thiago Alcantara (Spain)

Established in Barcelona’s first team squad for the past two seasons, the Spanish captain has all the attributes to take over from Xavi when the master finally calls it a day. Son of Brazilian World Cup winner Mazinho, Thiago is at the heart of Spain’s tiki-taka style and is always looking to get on the ball.

Credit: Bernat Armangue/AP/Press Association Images

Lorenzo Insigne (Italy)

Napoli winger Lorenzo Insigne was a doubt to start but looks to have shaken off an ankle injury picked up against Norway. He has been Italy’s best performer since giving the England defence a torrid time in the opening game, where he also scored a superb free-kick. A regular in the Napoli team which finished runners-up in Serie A last season and new manager Rafa Benitez is a big fan.

Credit: Ariel Schalit/AP/Press Association Images

Isco (Spain)

One of the most sought-after players in Europe at the minute, Malaga’s attacking midfielder will be leaving soon and revealed this week that both Real Madrid and Manchester City have made bids for his signature. The 21-year-old is a joy to watch and has scored two incredible goals already in this tournament.

Credit: Adam Davy/EMPICS Sport

Watch his goal against Norway:

YouTube credit: Franck Ribery

Marco Verratti (Italy)

The Paris Saint-Germain playmaker didn’t have his best game in the semi-finals but will be vital to the Italians if they are to have any chance of competing with Spain’s talented midfield.

Credit: Ariel Schalit/AP/Press Association Images

Alvaro Morata (Spain)

Despite being the tournament’s top goalscorer with 4, the Real Madrid youngter has only started one game. Manger Julen Lopetegui has tended to opt for Benfica’s Rodrigo (1 goal)  in the striker role and must decide whether to repay Morata with a starting berth or unleash him from the bench.

Credit: Bernat Armangue/AP/Press Association Images

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