Whether you like it or not, domestic leagues are coming to an end and summer is approaching. In an odd-ending year, that would mean long breaks, pre-season tournaments, traveling to foreign markets to build brand, and lots and lots of transfer rumors.
In 2021 and on the (hopefully) tail-end of the COVID pandemic, it means the 2020 Euros which the soccer world was not able to enjoy last year.
This weirdly placed Euro is a bit of an afterthought for a lot of people, as it will happen fast and furious in between congested seasons, but fans from every country will find a way to cheer for their teams, even if remotely, as this Euro will be the first one held in multiple countries, which means very little chances fans will be able to travel.
With matches in over a half dozen countries, some of them will get lucky to play the entirety of their group stage matches in their country. Spain is one of those cases. La Roja will play all three matches in Bilbao.
With that in mind, and just a few weeks to the Euros, it is time for Luis Enrique to make his choice: who will he bring to the tournament? The manager will make his final list on May 27th, a day after the Europa League final, and once the leagues have ended.
That brings us to Villarreal. Several players have featured for the national side in the past few months, but there are others who are knocking on the door. The Asturian manager is well known for giving chances to young players who perform well, and Villarreal has definitely enjoyed some of those players in a historic past couple of months.
With that in mind, we walk you through the players we believe have a chance, minimally or almost ensured, to play in the Euros next month.
Pau Torres: Our local centerback has been featuring for Luis Enrique as a solid starting defender unless when injured, as it was the case in March. Laporte has just recently pledged to play for Spain, which means Pau has even more serious competition on defense, but the first ever Vila-real player to feature for Spain should still be included in the list of 26 players for Bilbao. Featured last in the 6-0 thrashing of Germany last year. Chances: All of them.
Gerard Moreno. Another no-brainer. Moreno is the second top scorer in La Liga, and has a goals per shot ratio that currently almost halves Messi’s (a goal every four shots for one out of seven of the Argentinean). Moreno is also the highest Spanish scorer in La Liga in seven years, since Diego Costa’s 27 goals in 2013/14. Played last against Kosovo in March, where he scored. Chances: All of them.
Albiol: Pau’s dancing couple in the center of the defense is enjoying a second youth with a season in which he has played everything and has led Emery’s men to their first final, ever. The experience of a World Cup and Euro Cup (twice) winner will prove vital in the final in Gdansk, but until then, there is a slim chance Raul gets recognition for his solid season with a call from Luis Enrique. Laporte, Eric Garcia, Pau Torres, maybe Ramos and others are probably ahead of him, but Raul has certainly done his bit to at least ask the question. Last he featured for Spain was in the 2019 Euro qualifiers. Chances: Some.
Parejo: Villarreal’s core has had a long and demanding season, and has responded every single time. 51 matches speak to a 32-year-old midfielder who knows how he can impact matches, and makes sure to utilize his energy and experience to do just that. Spain has plenty of talent in the midfield, but Parejo, even though his last match for the national team was two years ago, has what it takes to add to the side. Luis Enrique looks at players having good moments, and Parejo is definitely having one. Chances: Some.
Sergio Asenjo: Villarreal’s eternal goalkeeper, and one who has gone through injury and recovery countless times, Sergio has only featured for La Roja once in 2016, in a friendly against Bosnia, and one could argue he deserves another chance to be there. Good performances, the latest against Sevilla with several quality saves in 20 minutes, argue in his favor. A lot of competition on goal for Asenjo, including his rival De Gea in the final next week, but he has earned being in the conversation. Chances: Slim.
Yeremy Pino is the underdog. The 18-year-old from the Canary Islands is having a great end of the season, and is someone who could prove decisive in the dying minutes of the team’s Europa League final. He’s featured in 35 matches this season, and surprisingly even scored six goals in his debut season. Won the Under-21 Euro. Chances: Slim.
Pedraza has proven to be a dagger on the left wing for Villarreal, and he is attracting attention from English and Italian clubs. He knows how to break the rival’s defense and could be a great supersub, but faces a lot of competition. Another recent Under-21 Euro winner. Chances: Slim to none.
Manu Trigueros has spent a lifetime in Vila-real, and even though he can be reckless at times, he definitely has enough talent to be in the 26. Trigueros has never had a chance, but he is in one of the best forms of his career. Chances: Slim to none.