iBet: Classy Thiago could shine for Spain

Gareth Purnell

Under 21 Championship

Player of Tournament Betting

Back Thiago (Spain) at 18-1

Although I don’t think Spain are the best value bet in the world the outright market at 2-1 because they do have a tough group, the defending champions are still very likely winners. Indeed their Under 21 team has won this tournament three times and this year’s squad is again packed with quality. Unlike a few of the contenders who look like good teams without many stand out individuals, Spain have some potential superstars in their ranks. One of those is Thiago.

Despite being only 22, Thiago has played over 100 times for Barcelona – some feat considering he is up against the likes of Xavi, Iniesta and Fabregas for a midfield berth. Spain treat competitions like this completely differently to many European countries – England included. The players are together and form a team unit from a very early age and develop a club atmosphere and winning culture – and their clubs are happy to release them to do so. Many of those junior players go on to make it at senior international level. Thiago is a potential world star, and has been courted by Manchester United for some time.

For me he was the arguably the best player in the winning Spain team in this competition in 2011, and he’s even better now. In 2011 award was given to Chelsea’s Juan Mata – which is another example of the quality of player Spain have.

Spain are 4/7 to win this afternoon’s match against Russia, who go off at 5/1. In the 7.30pm kick-off, dark horses Holland are 11/5 against tournament second favourites Germany (7/5), with the draw 3/1.

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