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When a Spanish football teenager makes Scotland cheer too

When a Spanish football teenager makes Scotland cheer too

Javi is only 19 years old, but Spain already has him. Why would Scotland also benefit from his talent?

The largest Spanish daily newspaper, El Pais, described him weeks ago as a “complete player”, comparable to Lionel Messi or Deco. On Sunday evening, football star Javi once again showed why he is praised from all quarters despite being only 19 years old. In the Spaniards’ 1-0 European Championship qualifier win against Norway, the young midfielder made the difference, scoring the all-important goal – and Furria Roja’s score for Germany 2024.

But the leaders of the first group were not the only ones who celebrated. Thanks to Gavi, the Scots, who are now second, have every reason to be happy. They capitalized on the Norwegians’ defeat around former Salzburg player Erling Haaland on their day off and their ticket was also secured. As was the case only in 1992 and 1996, Scotland have now participated in the European Championships twice in a row.

Javi, the “pearl” of Spain

There is one thing that stands out in Furia Roja’s recent performance curve: since the match against Scotland, in which Javi was only substituted in the final phase when the score was 0-2, he has always been in the starting lineup. The teenager is the new success factor, and he has certainly regained the trust of team boss Luis de la Fuente. Even veteran Dani Carvajal exclaims: “He is the pearl of our country. At 19 he is a regular player for Barcelona and the national team. There is nothing else I can say. He has worked hard for all this.”

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Born in the province of Seville, Javi once joined FC Barcelona’s legendary youth academy (“La Masia”). The 1.73m tall all-rounder midfielder made his professional debut in 2021 and has now played 107 competitive matches (seven goals) for Barcelona. He previously played 25 matches with the first team and scored five goals. The fact that he can win two Young Player of the Year awards in 2022 (Golden Boy, Copa) was a promise for Spain and a warning for the competition.

What remains of the kissing scandal

For months, everything in Spanish football has revolved around the misconduct of resigned federation president Luis Rubiales and player Jennifer Hermoso. He planted an accidental kiss on her lips at the World Cup celebrations and left the nation divided by arguments and refusal to resign. Now, with qualification for the European Championship, the only thing in Spain is football again.

De la Fuente, a regular guest at the European Championships who was not present for the last time in 1992, has also seen “exceptional growth in the last few months.” The 1-0 win was the Iberians’ fourth successive win in the qualifiers, with the last three victories coming without conceding a single goal. Furia Roja previously won the Nations League title last June. Initial discussions about whether De La Fuente, appointed at the start of the year after a World Cup round-of-16 exit, was the right man, suddenly fizzled out with the Rubiales whirlwind.

The cry of “furia”

“You get the feeling that the team is one unit. That’s what interests us the most,” said de la Fuente. After initial difficulties that led to a 2-0 defeat in Glasgow last March, his team has managed to turn the corner. According to the senior player At 62 years old, the players get it.

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One of them is Carvajal. For the 31-year-old Real Madrid defender, the successful qualification was particularly good this time around. “Qualifying for the European Championship was never easy, especially this time, after the defeat in Scotland, we also had a new coach and a lot of people from outside suddenly started doubting us. But we were able to recover from it and take a step forward.”

European Championship qualifiers

Germany (host), Spain, Scotland, Turkey, France, Belgium and Portugal are already scheduled to participate in Germany 2024.
In March 2024, after the actual qualifiers, a Nations League play-off will be held with twelve countries to determine the last three (of 24) participants in the final round. Participants will be ranked based on their performance in the 2022/23 Nations League.