Spain vs. Ghana: 5 Things We Learned from Under-20 World Cup Clash

Samuel MarsdenFeatured ColumnistJune 24, 2013

Spain vs. Ghana: 5 Things We Learned from Under-20 World Cup Clash

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    Spain recorded a 1-0 win over 2009 champions Ghana to ensure their progress into the next phase of the Under 20 World Cup in Turkey.

    With the USA and France having drawn earlier in the day, La Roja's youngsters knew a win would take them through having beaten USA 4-1 in their opening match on Friday.

    Jese Rodriguez gave them the lead following wonderful work on the left from Denis Suarez—it was the forward's third goal of the tournament.

    Ghana had chances to equalize, Joseph Duncan and Yiadom Boakye with especially good opportunities, while Gerard Deulofeu and Jairo could have added to Spain's lead.

    Another goal wasn't forthcoming though, and Spain will be relieved to have ended with the three points.

    Here are five things we learned from the Group A encounter...

Jese Rodriguez Is a Goalscorer

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    Real Madrid's Jese Rodriguez was the top scorer as Spain won last season's Under 19 European Championships, and he's made another good start in Turkey.

    The 20-year-old gave his side the lead against Ghana after 13 minutes on Monday night—it was his third of the competition already.

    It looked like an easy goal, but the timing of the run and composure of the finish were that of a natural goalscorer.

    He doesn't always play as an out-and-out forward for Julen Lopetegui's side, but that's where he mainly stayed against the Africans.

    When he was substituted early in the second half, he hadn't done a great deal. All the stories about the match will be headlined by his goal though.

    It's going to be interesting in the coming seasons to see how Los Blancos manage the progression of both Jese and Alvaro Morata together.

Clinical Sides Could Punish Spain

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    First against the USA and now against Ghana, Spain's defense has shown signs that it may not cope well against more clinical teams.

    Racing Santander's Daniel Sotres in goal, in place of Athletic Bilbao's injured Kepa Arrizabalaga, has hardly filled his back four with confidence at times.

    In the middle of defense Derek Osede (Real Madrid) and Israel Puerto (Sevilla) are good, but once again they've shown frailties and are certainly not unbeatable.

    Valencia's Juan Bernat has converted at left-back for the tournament, although, admittedly, right-back Javier Manquillo (Atletico Madrid) has been an impressive performer.

    If Joseph Duncan, Yiadom Boakye and their teammates had been more successful in front of goal, Spain would have had few complaints.

    Other teams, at a later stage, may not be so generous. 

Ghana Won't Win the Competiton

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    Ghana had plenty to be positive about despite going down to Spain on Monday night.

    For large periods, both before and after half-time, they looked equal to, if not better than La Rojita as they created chance after chance.

    Joseph Duncan was a particular threat, and it was his corner which Frank Aceheampong headed into the side netting early in the second half.

    Seconds later Yiadom Boakye's smart turn could only draw a shot which flew over the bar—arguably Ghana's best chance.

    Unfortunately it all meant nothing as they ended up losing on the night.

    They're not out yet—a win against the USA in their final match could possibly see them through as one of the four best third-place finishers—but repeating their 2009 heroics, and winning the competition, seems a long way away now.

Deulofeu Still Developing

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    After his two goals and assist against the USA in the opening game, it's fair to say that a lot was expected from Gerard Deulofeu against Ghana.

    The 19-year-old has long been tipped as the next star to emerge from La Masia, but it's extremely important to remember that he was born as recently as 1994.

    When he was younger, attitude problems always raised doubts about how far he could go in the game.

    As recently as last summer, at the Under 19 European Championships, questions were raised over his decision making and greediness.

    This season he's developed a lot as a player though, and it was neither of those weaknesses which held him back in the win over the African side.

    He was replaced by Racing Santander's Jairo—who's agreed to sign for Sevilla, via MARCA—after on off day.

    But that's all it was; an off day.

    His miss in the first half, when he placed it straight at the 'keeper, will irk him the most, but he didn't show that in his performance.

    Deulofeu's not ready to produce the goods every week, but even in his worse performances, it seems, there continue to be signs of progression.

Technical Players of Rich Availability in Spain

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    If it was ever in doubt, some of the players on show for Spain's Under 20 side at the World Cup proves that their conveyor belt is not slowing down any time soon.

    While the first team are in Brazil for the Confederations Cup, the Under 21 side have been competing in their Under 21 European Championships and now this Under 20 side are showing their worth too.

    Liverpool midfielder Suso has shown how much he has developed in the past year—probably due to his first team experience at Anfield—since playing a less commanding role at last summer's Under 19 European Championships.

    Atletico Madrid's Oliver Torres is another with great technique and a fantastic array of passing, while Manchester City's Denis Suarez, Gerard Deulofeu and Jese Rodriguez have already been mentioned.

    Even coming off the bench are players like Ruben Garcia. The 19-year-old has just come off the back of a wonderful season with Levante, competing admirably in both La Liga and the Europa League.

    With qualification now assured, Julen Lopetegui may rotate to show even more depth to Spain's riches.