Daily Cannon’s Player of the Month for August, Nacho Monreal, sat down for a talk with Arsenal Player recently about the Spanish national team and how it’s developed over the years.
Monreal has now become a regular face in the Arsenal starting 11. After injury sidelined Kieran Gibbs, the Spaniard slotted into the first team seamlessly and is currently one of our most consistent players.
However, Spain’s national team is a different story. As much as pundits love to compare Arsenal’s style with the ticka-tacka, passing football of European teams, we do have a more physical edge developed from playing in the Premier League. Monreal is perfectly suited to this but has consistently found it hard to get into the Spain squad, having only made 16 appearances since 2009.
In addition, Spain also has some of the best footballing talent in the world.
“The team is full of talent but not just in my position,” Monreal said. “Every position in the Spain side is very well-covered because the current generation has been incredible – it has won the European Championship twice and the World Cup too.”
Despite not having the best of luck when it comes to playing for his country, the defender still claims he’s learnt a lot from watching at home.
“It has been a great experience – both watching it on television and when I was involved in the squad, sharing a dressing room with those players,” the 29-year-old continued. “It’s been fantastic. I think it’s one of the best teams Spain has ever produced.
“The majority of those players had been playing together right through from the youth teams – the under-19 side, the under-21s – and after a few years together in the senior team it all began to bear fruit.”
The existing, trophy winning Spanish team are beginning to age and, although they’re hardly over the hill, the younger members of the squad are now being pushed on to become their successors.
“The work that’s being done in the younger categories is very impressive,” Monreal said. “The kids are being taught well and learning fast and that’s why so many young players are emerging. If you do good work with the youth teams, you’ll reap the rewards later on.
The defender added, “Casillas, Xavi, Puyol, Iniesta, David Villa and Fernando Torres were unique players. As well as that, the group coincided with two great coaches in Luis Aragones and Vicente del Bosque, who made a massive contribution too. Everything came together for us to become a top side – we were the best team for several years.
“We’re in a period of transition now where we’re focusing on young players – they’re very talented players but obviously need to gain international experience.
“There are currently a few teams that are ahead of Spain on a collective level – not in terms of the individual players but as a group – but as these players gain experience and build a strong group, I think they have a chance to dominate in the future.”
Spain face Slovakia on Saturday.