THE European Under-21 Championship gets underway on Friday June 16.
There will be many stars of the future on show, but the Spain squad already has a number of stars of the present.
Our friends at Football Whispers look at whether it’s the strongest under-21 squad ever.
Albert Celades’ 23-man squad has seven full internationals in it – Héctor Bellerín, Gerard Deulofeu, Saúl Ñíguez, Denis Suárez, Marco Asensio, Iñaki Williams and Mikel Oyarzabal.
That’s nowhere near the most in the tournament – the Macedonia, Slovakia and Sweden squads has 12 and the Serbia squad has nine.
And there are some big names elsewhere too, with future Italy No.1 Gianluigi Donnarumma on show, new Bayern Munich signing Serge Gnabry in the Germany team and there’s also his club-team mate Renato Sanches for Portugal, who joined the German side last summer for a deal that could rise to €80million.
England have FA Cup winner Rob Holding, as well as Southampton’s Nathan Redmond, apparently the player with the 55th highest transfer value in the world at €60.2million according to the CIES Football Observatory report published this week.
Up front though, they have two forwards who played their football in the Championship next year in Tammy Abraham, who impressed at Bristol City, and Cauley Woodrow, who had a mixed season at Fulham and Burton Albion.
And if you look at those two players in comparison to Spain’s options for centre-forward, there is not much competition.
Spain’s options are Borja Mayoral, who has made six appearances for Real Madrid, but spent last season on loan at Wolfsburg in the Bundesliga, playing 21 times, Williams, who’s been a regular for Athletic Bilbao in the top-flight since 2014 and Everton transfer target Sandro Ramírez, who scored 14 LaLiga goals last season with Málaga.
They are all capable of causing problems for a defence at senior level, let alone an under-21 side.
And the midfield is equally as strong.
Dani Ceballos has been subject of Real Madrid transfer rumours after impressing for Real Betis this season, while Atlético Madrid’s Saúl has already started a Champions League final.
Denis Suárez is proving himself at Barcelona, while Carlos Soler was a shining light in a poor season for Valencia and Mikel Merino is highly-rated in a very promising Borussia Dortmund team.
That’s not even counting Asensio and his Real Madrid team-mate Marcos Llorente.
Asensio is one of the best prospects in the world at the moment.
He scored in Zinédine Zidane’s side’s Champions League final win over Juventus earlier this month and his manager claims he’s got the best left foot since Lionel Messi.
The attacking midfielder impressed Bayern Munich technical director Michael Reschke when he faced the Germans that he joked José Ángel Sánchez deserved a statue for signing Asensio for just £3million from Mallorca.
Asensio has the world at his feet and he will undoubtedly add to his 10 goals and 38 appearances for Los Blancos next season.
And after an impressive season with Alavés where he helped them to the Copa del Rey, he’s likely to return to the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu and compete with Casemiro for a starting spot.
Real Sociedad’s Oyarzabal and Everton’s Gerard Deulofeu, who spent part of last season on loan at AC Milan are also bound to be terrifying prospects for defenders, with their quick feet regularly tormenting defenders throughout the 2016/17 campaign.
The defence and goalkeeping options for Spain are probably a bit less experienced, with Kepa Arrizabalaga, Rubén Blanco and Tottenham Hotspur third-choice option Pau López the three shot stoppers in the squad.
The defence has the likes of Álvaro Odriozola, who only made his Real Sociedad league debut in 2017, and Diego González, who played just 31 minutes of LaLiga action last season.
But there is also Héctor Bellerín, an Arsenal regular who’s become one of the best right-backs in the Premier League and a Barcelona transfer target, and Jesús Vallejo, who in January was rated by Kicker Magazine as the best performing centre-back in the first half of the Bundesliga season, while on loan at Eintracht Frankfurt from Real Madrid.
The other defenders in the squad José Gayà, Jorge Meré and Jonny Castro have all been LaLiga regulars for Valencia, Sporting Gijón and Celta Vigo respectively, while Alex Grimaldo has proved himself away from Barcelona at Benfica.
For an under-21 squad, the experience within it at the top level is honestly frightening.
But it may not even be the best squad Spain has put out in the competition.
Back in 2011, the likes of César Azpilicueta, David de Gea, Ander Herrera, Juan Mata and Thiago were picked.
But Spain were even stronger in 2013, when they named a squad with 14 full internationals – de Gea, Nacho, Marc Bartra, Íñigo Martínez, Koke, Rodrigo, Thiago, Cristian Tello, Álvaro Morata, Ignacio Camacho, Alberto Moreno, Iker Muniain, Dani Carvajal and Isco.
It’s probably no surprise they won both of those tournaments, and when you see the players that current manager Celades has at his disposal this time, you would surely expect them to be competing for their fifth win at the European Under-21 Championships.