Carmen Menayo: “We know how Japan play - but this is a final”
“Japan are a major force in Women's football and it will be anything but easy. We'll try to do things right like we have been doing so we can celebrate another victory”.
Spain's Women's Under-20s want to make history tomorrow when they take on Japan at Stade de la Rabine in Vannes, Brittany when they will have the chance to be crowned world champions for the first time. AS sat down with Carmen Menayo to look ahead to Friday's final, the Atlético Femenino defender spoke about the positive mood in the Spain camp and said the team will be going all out to win the game, whilst knowing that facing Japan, who have twice finished third in the tournament, will be anything but easy.
Tomorrow is the big day, the U20 World Cup final at 19:30 CEST - are you nervious?
Nerves are for the very last minute. The team is motivated and thinking only of doing things rights out on the pitch and playing a good final. We have to take it just like any other game. There's no point in getting too nervous about it. We have to focus solely on what we want to do out on the pitch and treat it as a normal match. We'll be going out to try and win the game and get that gold medal which we all want.
Spain beat Japan 1-0 in the group stage - is that a good enough reason to feel confident?
Japan are a major force in world football and we know it's not going to be easy. We'll try to do everything right like we did in our last meeting with them and hopefully gain a similar result.
Japan and Spain are very similar in style and football philosophy...
Yes, they also like having possession of the ball and they move well as a team. They key will be trying to get the ball off them to make them suffer. It's going to be a game which will be decided by the smallest details.
On target earlier this month against Japan
One of Spain's strengths is set-pieces - your winner in the last game against Japan came from a corner...
Defending from set-pieces might be one of Japan's weak points, although that's an area in which they could punish us too. We're strong at dead-ball moves so we will have a lot of chances to score against them.
You started out at centre-back but the injury to Ona [Batlle] meant you had to switch to right-back, you've done well stepping into that role...
I'm willing to play wherever the coach sees fit; wherever I am needed, I'll give 100%.
Spain have reached this final with a highly experienced team and players who have built up a lot of playing time in the Liga Iberdrola, is that an advantage?
We have a very balanced side, with players who play important roles for their clubs. All of that counts and contributes to why we are here with the national team. You continue to build up experience and that is so important. It's in games like this that you have to show all of what you have learned.
The team also has previous experience of playing in European finals.
We've had some very difficult games and been lucky enough to have won at Under-17 and Under-19 level and now we want to do the same with the Under-20s. We're a very close-knit group and you can tell that by the way we play out on the pitch. We've spent many years playing together and we know each other to perfection. We know what this team is capable of and we'll be trying to bring it all together in the final.
Ona and Aitana to miss the final
It hasn't been an easy ride for Spain at U20 World Cup France for the injury problems and now the team will be without Aitana who is suspended...
Injuries, refereeing decisions... we've been through setbacks and bad luck in all of the tournaments we've played in. Aitana missed the group stage in the Euros last year through suspension. The players who will be absent for the final will give us extra motivation to reach our objective.
Have you imagined yourself lifting the World Cup?
The idea of even just being in a World Cup final has never even entered my head. Now I'm dreaming about it and seeing the team do it which is what they deserve.
Great year for women's football in Spain
Could a triumph tomorrow mark and before and after in Spanish women's football?
I really hope so. This year has been incredible for women's football in Spain, in which we've been crowned champions at Under-17 and Under-19 level and winning the Under-20 World Cup would just be the icing on the cake. The senior side have an opportunity to make history in France next year and if they do, that would definitely be a watershed moment for women's football in Spain.
You might be called up for 2019 World Cup France...
I hope so. Playing for the senior side is a dream. If it happens, it happens, I won't be worrying about it. Jorge has known me since I was a kid, he knows what I can give to the team. If he calls me up, I will be totally at his disposal for the team.
Can you picture yourself with the gold medal?
Yes, I can. We are confident about our chances, we've already played against them, we know how they play and how to beat them. Of course, anything can happen in a final but the whole team is going into this game with confidence and faith.
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