Following the Euro 2020 final last Sunday, UEFA this week named the tournament’s Best XI based on the opinion of a committee of experts. Pedri was included as the only Spanish representative, which is something very much to celebrate.
The young Spaniard has undoubtedly been one of the revelations of the season. At the start of the campaign he was promoted to a Barcelona team in dire straits and poor spirits. He made an impact straight away. With Lionel Messi singling him out as his new preferred partner, he played everything last season and he did so very well.
At the Euros, he also played everything and again very well, earning the high praise of Luis Enrique, who said that, at 18, he is above the level of ‘Don Andrés Iniesta’ at the same age. Despite his physical inferiority, he has adapted seamlessly to the rough and tumble of senior football; he has endured everything without complaint and he knows how and when to go from less to more, playing the game at his own constant rhythm.
Far away from the protective shadow of Messi, he has controlled the strings of a Spanish team that surprised us all at the European Championship. His only fault is that he did not have a single shot on goal, something that will have to be corrected. Iniesta wasn’t a great shooter either, although he did score on particularly happy occasions, such as against Chelsea and the Netherlands.
Chiellini’s absence from Best XI
What has displeased me has been the absence of Chiellini. Nothing against Maguire, who was chosen as Bonucci's partner in the UEFA best XI, but Chiellini deserved the spot of the England defender in my opinion. He is not a stylish player, nor is he fast, but he is a master of the science of defensive football.
With his imposing physique, he goes where he should, doesn't try anything he doesn't know and guards the defensive line sternly. One of the many things I like about football is that one can achieve excellence playing like Pedri or Chiellini; they don’t belong to the same species, but both are great footballers in their own right.