Barcelona midfielder Pedri looked far from overawed in his first game at a senior international tournament as he became Spain’s youngest ever player at the European Championship finals.
18-year-old Pedri, likened by some to legend Andres Iniesta, played 52 times for Barcelona in all competitions in 2020/21. He was called up for La Roja for the first time in March and was chosen to start against Sweden in Sevilla ahead of more experienced midfielders like Thiago and Fabian Ruiz.
Already trusted at club level, the intense spotlight on every player at Camp Nou has more than prepared him for the spotlight of international football.
Pedri never shied away from making himself available to receive the ball as Spain completely dominated possession against Sweden in a 0-0 draw in their opening Group E game, playing with the composure and maturity of someone much older.
It was telling that he was the only one of Spain’s front six that coach Luis Enrique trusted to play the full 90 minutes, with fellow midfielders Koke and Rodri both pulled before the end.
Until the final whistle, it was Pedri who looked as though he was most likely to create the breakthrough for Spain with a key pass to crack the Swedish resistance.
Before the game had even kicked off, ex-Barcelona and Spain midfielder Cesc Fabregas was raving about Pedri in his role as a pundit for BBC’s coverage of the contest.
“I love the fact that 18-year-old Pedri is playing. Like Arsene Wegner said to me, ‘age is just a number. If you’re good enough, you’re ready to play’,” the two-time Euro winner said.
“He has fantastic personality, he wants the ball, he takes risks, he goes forward, makes run into space and he works very hard for the team. He takes people on and likes to move with the ball. He has this thing that it feels like he’s walking on water with the ball.”
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