Player Analysis: Manchester City’s Denis Suárez in Spain U18′s Copa Atlántico victory

After watching Denis Suárez in the recent Copa Atlántico tournament I felt inclined to note down a few observations.

I’ve followed Suárez since his Celta Vigo days, specifically with the Juvenil team, so have taken a continued interest in his development. The midfielder has stated in interviews playing alongside David Silva in training has brought his game on, and that he’s learning every single day how to improve both his decision making with the ball, and running off it. Judging by his performance in the tournament based in the Canary Islands, he’s an efficient learner.

Here is an assessment of his performance at the tournament:

 

Vs. Denmark

Suárez was operating here, in quite advanced areas throughout. Raúl de Tomas was the central striker, and it was the Manchester City player who was closest to him throughout. I found this strange because on a few occasions only, have I seen him operate as advanced. He often picked the pall up 25/30 yards from goal, making short passes to the wide players – he had a particularly good understanding with Atlético Madrid’s highly rated Javi Manquillo, cutting in from wide areas. The neat interchanges are key in the Spanish game at youth level, to learn the prestige of possession. Suárez rarely misplaced a pass, even when under pressure he contorted his body well and manoeuvred out of a potentially dangerous situation, again distributing the ball neatly. Off the ball his movement was intelligent too, sometimes moving into an area with his back to goal turning 180 degrees and lifting his head up – again moving the ball into channels, or to De Tomas. Everything went through Suárez, and there can’t have been a single move that didn’t involve him within the build-up. It was a solid display to begin the tournament with.

 

Vs. Canary Islands

Here, Suárez was situated in a deeper area, where I’ve been more used to seeing him, both at Celta and while with the Spanish youth set up. I imagine, given what occurred in the first game, Coach Julen Lopetegui decided he needed to create more space for Suárez to dictate within. It worked too, as for much of the game he remained unmarked, and despite picking the ball up from deeper zones, he carried the ball in a much more purposeful way compared to the first. Again, he maintained to distribute the ball into wider areas when getting into the final third, though he seemed to be playing on a more individual level without Manquillo, who was rested. The relationship between the two really was that significant in the opening game. Suárez’s body movement continued to amaze, and just when it seemed he was being closed down a subtle drop of the shoulder took him away from any oncoming opponent. He crowned a dominating display, with a goal. Receiving the ball inside the penalty area he showed fine control, before evading a challenge and slotting into the bottom corner. With the game closing out, Suárez found time for a party trick too; he made himself some space in central midfield, and a 40 yard pass from the full back was plucked out of the air, and brought under control. The crowd, and commentators on Marca TV, duly let out a huge gasp.

 

Vs. Russia

This was probably Suárez’s weakest game of the tournament, though it speaks volumes despite this he managed to provide the key moment within the 90 minutes. He reverted to the role he played in the opener against Denmark, with Coach Lopetegui perhaps being of the mindset he needed more definition within attacking areas. Spain needed to win the game to take the trophy – a loss, or draw, wasn’t enough. Russia pressed up high on Spain in the first half, and were probably the better side. It squeezed Suárez, and Spain, much deeper than they would’ve liked. Without him dropping deep the distribution on the counter attack wasn’t precise enough, and unusually for a Spanish side, they were out hustled by a determined Russian side. A late substitution saw Spain take the lead, and after that the game opened up more. Suarez began to find space to create within, and he was feeding balls into the frontline often. The decisive moment then came, as Spain put both hands on the trophy. Russia failed to clear their lines, and with two body feints, Suárez opened himself up a yard of space, and drilled the ball home. It was a fantastic strike, especially given the small area to work in.

 

Conclusion:

Suárez had a fantastic tournament, and there has been clear development within his game. He seems a more confident individual, and obviously has a clearer view of the ability harnessed. In fact, from what I gathered, he was one of the stronger personalities within the dressing room too, and along with Manquillo and Óliver Torres (another outstanding Atlético Madrid prospect), he will no doubt lead this next generation of Spanish talent on to success. If I had to give him a mark, it would be 9/10. City have a gem.

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