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Spanish No1 Miquel 'confident but not complacent'

IT'S A squad oozing class, talent and promise. Spain's panel here at the U19 finals in Romania contains players who've appeared in La Liga and the Europa League, waiting to see if they come off the admired production line and join the likes of Iniesta, Xavi and Torres in the field of greatness.

But within the Spanish squad there's a note of realism and a sense of admiration for the Irish side which faces Spain in the U19 European Championship semi-finals tonight.

“We are not taking it for granted that we're already in the final. Ireland didn't get to the last four with luck, they got here with hard work and talent and we will respect that,” Spanish defender Ignasi Miquel, who has made two first-team appearances for Arsenal, told the Herald today.

“We have studied Ireland but I knew even before we did that it would be a very tough game for us. We're confident but not complacent.

“This is a European semi-final, any team which gets this far has to be good. I don't think anyone expected Ireland to be here but now that they are here, they're going to give us a very tough match tonight.”

Spain had their final analysis session last night and they have already identified one of Ireland's threats.

“We have watched their games and they are dangerous from set pieces, one of their defenders (Antony O'Connor) scored two goals in the first game and that is a worry for me as a goalkeeper,” added Miquel.

“I know something about Ireland as two players were at Arsenal, the keeper Sean McDermott is still at the club and the midfielder Samir Carruthers was at Arsenal before he moved to Aston Villa. So they have good players.”

Miquel is one of the many Spanish players to have gained first-team experience, appearing twice under Arsene Wenger in the FA Cup last season.

“Most of our guys have played firstteam football, some more than others, but we have a good squad and that experience is a help for us,” he added.

“If I had to pick out one player from our squad who is a danger to Ireland, it's Alvaro Morata (Real Madrid), he's our main striker and he's going to be some player.

“But we have good players in every position. I think the reason Spain are so strong in football now is that we play it the right away. So we are confident we can get through.”