Morata predicts Yamal to be one of the best in the world ahead of Euro 2024

By Sports Desk June 12, 2024

Alvaro Morata believes Lamine Yamal has the potential to be one of the world's best ahead of Spain's Euro 2024 opener against Croatia this Saturday. 

Morata, who will lead La Roja at the tournament, is one of only two players included in Luis de la Fuente's squad with over 50 international caps, with the Spanish opting for youth over experience in Germany. 

16-year-old Lamal enjoyed a breakthrough campaign with Barcelona, scoring seven goals and registering 10 assists in 50 appearances in all competitions. 

Yamal is expected to break Pedri's European Championship record and become Spain's youngest player to feature at the tournament, with Morata believing he has all the attributes to reach the top of world football. 

"It's a pleasure to have him playing with us. He offers something different," Morata told UEFA.com on the La Masia graduate.

"If he is lucky and doesn't suffer major injuries, then he will be among the very best in the world, because despite being just 16 years old, he is already a step further than many others.

"He must mature, but that's normal. Sometimes it seems he isn't 16, it seems he is 23 or 24. Above all, we need to make him understand how important it is to manage matches mentally and also the fact that you sometimes need to slow down the match rather than trying to make something out of everything.

"He is really good at dribbling, he has a great technique, but he must help us with that by understanding that there are certain matches where the most important thing is to protect the current result."

Morata takes the armband from Jordi Alba, who captained the side to their maiden Nations League title last year, and is hopeful of emulating Iker Casillas, who led Spain to three international honours, including back-to-back European Championships. 

"It's an incredibly proud feeling, Morata said. "My family often sends me a photo of mine of the time when Spain won the first of their last two EURO [in 2008]. 

"I was out in a square full of people celebrating the title, and you always think it's a dream when you start playing for Spain to one day be amongst the top scorers, or to be the captain. I've achieved both those things, step by step.

"Every time I hear the anthem and I wear the [captain's] armband it is unbelievable. I only try to help my team-mates, make sure they're happy but also drum into them that a competition like this is all about very small details. We're not here on holiday, and this month is about working hard."

Related items

  • Morata and Rodri charged by UEFA for Gibraltar chant Morata and Rodri charged by UEFA for Gibraltar chant

    Alvaro Morata and Rodri have been charged by UEFA following their actions during Spain's trophy celebrations after winning Euro 2024. 

    The Spanish duo, who were a key part of La Roja's record fourth European Championship success, were at the centre of complaints from Gibraltar's FA over unacceptable chanting during the trophy parade in Madrid. 

    Manchester City midfielder Rodri could be seen chanting "Gibraltar is Spanish" on the stage, with Morata later encouraging the crowd to join in with the same chant.

    Last Friday, UEFA confirmed they had opened an investigation and have since come to their conclusion. 

    The pair have been charged with "violating the basic rules of decent conduct, using sporting events for manifestations of a non-sporting nature, and bringing the sport of football, and UEFA in particular, into disrepute".

    Rodri was named the player of the tournament in Germany, with Morata scoring once in their Group B opener against Croatia in Berlin. 

    In a statement, the Gibraltar FA said: "The Gibraltar FA welcomes the announcement today that UEFA has decided to open formal disciplinary proceedings against Rodri and Alvaro Morata further to the complaint filed by the Gibraltar FA with UEFA.

    "This is an important first step in order to establish the unlawfulness of the chant on the basis of the grounds put forward by the Gibraltar FA in its complaint.

    "The Gibraltar FA now awaits the decision of the UEFA Control Ethics and Disciplinary Body when the matter is heard."

  • Henry's France gunning for gold as Spain and Argentina look to build on summer success in Paris Henry's France gunning for gold as Spain and Argentina look to build on summer success in Paris

    Having been treated to a month of non-stop international football with Euro 2024 and the Copa America, the fun continues at the Olympic Games in Paris. 

    Sixteen teams will play across seven different stadiums in the men's tournament, and all will hope to have a gold medal placed around their necks on August 9 at the Parc des Princes. 

    There will be a new champion this time around, with Brazil, who triumphed in Tokyo, not participating in this year's tournament. 

    Will it be Thierry Henry's France, or will Argentina and Spain continue their recent international success on the global stage?

    Here, we have a look at all the key information ahead of the action unfolding.

    Football at the Olympics

    In Olympic football, the general rules align with those of domestic and international play. However, for the men's teams, there's a notable difference in the age requirement for each nation. 

    Each of the 16 countries have confirmed their 18-man squads ahead of the tournament, but are only allowed to select three players over the age of 23. 

    The action will start on 24 July, with Argentina and Spain kicking off their respective campaigns in the day's early matches.

    The tournament format consists of four groups containing four teams, with the top two advancing to the knockout stages. 

    A bronze medal match will take place a day prior to the final, and due to the number of fixtures needing to be played, the action will kickstart two days before the Olympics' official opening ceremony on July 26. 

    How do the groups look?

    While France are considered among the favourites at their home Games, they have been placed in a group that contains one-time silver medallists United States and Tokyo 2020 quarter-finalists New Zealand, as well as minnows Guniea.

    Henry's side have impressed in their pre-tournament preparations, scoring 12 goals in their three matches against the Dominican Republic, Japan and Paraguay. 

    Having been placed in the 'group of death' at Euro 2024, albeit they went on to lift the trophy anyway, Spain will sleep a little easier knowing they are to play two sides in Group C who are yet to participate at the Olympic Games. 

    La Roja feature in a group containing Uzbekistan and the Dominican Republic, but will also play Egypt, who are making their 12th appearance in the competition. 

    Argentina are placed in Group B, with their biggest test coming in their opening game against Morocco, with Iraq and Ukraine rounding out that pool.

    Japan are the standout side in Group D, having previously featured in 11 editions of the Games; they will square off against Paraguay, Mali and Israel. 

    Spain and Argentina gunning for gold, but France will have their say

    Spain and Argentina are the hot favourites to build on their summer tournament successes, though France, as hosts, are certainly right in the mix.

    Argentina have the chance to clinch a record-equalling third gold medal in Paris, and would go level with Great Britain and Hungary as the most successful nation in the competition's history. 

    La Albiceleste previously triumphed in back-to-back Olympic Games, securing their maiden win in Athens 20 years ago, followed by another gold in Beijing four years later. 

    Javier Mascherano is coaching Argentina, and his squad includes two Copa America winners in the form of Nicolas Otamendi and Manchester City's Julian Alvarez. Thiago Almada, who has just signed for Botafogo in Brazil, was a star of MLS in recent years and is certainly one to watch.

    Argentina have, however, failed to get out of the group in their previous two appearances at the games, but will be confident of reaching the knockout stages this time around. 

    Spain are in search of a first gold medal since Barcelona 1992, and they will hope to make up for their defeat to Brazil in the Tokyo final.

    Their squad includes Fermin Lopez, Eric Garcia and Pau Cubarsi.

    But France will pose a significant threat, especially with the advantage of the Games being played on home soil.

    Eleven of Les Bleus 18-man squad play their football in France, and they will be hopeful of leading their nation to a first gold medal since the Los Angeles games back in 1984, and there are some real stars in Henry's squad.

    Alexander Lacazette brings the experience as captain, Jean-Philippe Mateta is coming off the back of a fine season, and new Bayern Munich winger Michael Olise is arguably the best player involved in the entire competition.

    Who could upset the odds?

    Uzbekistan, led by Timur Kapadze, are one of three teams making their debut at the Olympics, alongside Ukraine and the Dominican Republic. 

    They qualified for the tournament after reaching the final of the AFC U-23 Asian Cup earlier this year, losing to Japan 1-0 in May. 

    However, they face a difficult task to reach the knockout stages in their maiden appearance at the tournament, having been placed in Group C alongside Spain and Egypt. 

    Japan, meanwhile, are competing at their 12th Olympics, a record only bettered by the United States (15), France (14) and Egypt (13) of this year's participating sides.

    Having won all three of their group games at the Tokyo Games, Japan went close to equalling their best result in their home games, having previously claimed bronze in 1968. 

    They were beaten 3-1 by Mexico in their bronze medal match four years ago, and will be keen to earn a first top-two medal finish. 

    The USA are another side looking to restore some pride on the international stage following their group stage exit at the Copa America last month. Their best result came in 1904 when they won silver in St. Louis, with Marko Mitrovic the man tasked with delivering in Paris this time around. 

    No Paris return for Mbappe or Messi

    While some of the world's brightest talent will descend on Paris this month, there are some huge omissions from the 16 nations taking part. 

    Kylian Mbappe is arguably the biggest of those.

    Having failed to lead Les Bleus to European Championship glory, the former Paris Saint-Germain striker will not be able to make up for it in the city he called home for the past seven years. 

    Mbappe has completed his move to Real Madrid, signing a five-year deal with Los Blancos. The 36-time LaLiga champions said they would not release any of their squad to compete at the Games, although Mbappe said he was keen to play earlier this year.

    Lionel Messi is another huge player who will not be present in Paris, having just led Argentina to a third-straight major tournament win. 

     

    Messi played five times for Lionel Scaloni's side at the Copa America, scoring once in their semi-final win over Canada. 

    The 37-year-old was forced off in the final against Colombia after picking up an ankle injury, but would not have featured anyway having alerted Mascherano of his desire not to feature. 

    Messi has won all there is to win as a professional footballer, including an Olympic gold he clinched at the 2008 Games.

    And having become the youngest player to appear in a major international tournament final, Spain's Lamine Yamal will also not be competing at the Paris games. 

    Yamal starred for La Roja at Euro 2024, tallying five goal involvements in seven appearances in Germany.

    The 17-year-old played 50 times for Barcelona last season and will miss the tournament in order to manage his workload ahead of the new La Liga season. 

     

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    France - Jean-Philippe Mateta

    All eyes will be on host nation France, with Henry's squad boasting a plethora of attacking talent heading into the games. 

    Les Bleus will be led by former Arsenal striker Lacazette, but attention will be focused on Crystal Palace striker Mateta, who enjoyed a rich vein of form in the Premier League.

    Mateta scored 16 goals last term, having previously only scored seven times for the Eagles, including a run of nine goals in Palace's seven-game winning run under new head coach, Oliver Glasner. 

    His former Palace team-mate Olise, fresh from his £50million move to Bayern Munich, is also a part of Henry's plans, along with Lacazette's Lyon team-mate, Rayan Cherki. 

    Argentina - Julian Alvarez

    Fresh from his Copa America success, Alvarez will be keen to add another international honour to his trophy cabinet. 

    Alvarez is one of three overage players picked by Mascherano alongside Otamendi and Geronimo Rulli.

    The 24-year-old scored two goals in Argentina's 16th Copa success, netting 19 times in 54 appearances in all competitions for Pep Guardiola's side last term as they claimed a record fourth consecutive Premier League crown. 

    With his participation in the tournament, Alvarez will miss City's pre-season tour of the United States and their Community Shield fixture against rivals Manchester United.

     

    Spain - Fermin Lopez 

    Along with Alex Baena, Fermin is one of two players from Spain's Euro 2024-winning squad heading to the Olympics.

    Lopez played just 28 minutes for La Roja in their record-setting fourth success at the Euros, but he is guaranteed more game time in Paris. 

    The 21-year-old enjoyed a breakthrough year, scoring eight goals for Barcelona in La Liga, which included a strike against Real Madrid in his second Classico appearance. 

    Lopez and Baena are looking to make history by becoming the first outfield players to win both the Euros and Olympic gold in the same summer.

    Morocco - Achraf Hakimi 

    Despite failing to build on their World Cup 2022 semi-final run at the recent Africa Cup of Nations, PSG star Hakimi will be hopeful of guiding Morocco to gold.

    Hakimi will lead the Atlas Lions out for their eighth appearance at the Games, having been given permission to miss his club's pre-season preparations. 

    The 25-year-old, who has made over 70 appearances for his nation, helped Luis Enrqiue's side to a domestic treble last term, recording nine goal contributions in 25 Ligue 1 outings. 

    Guinea - Naby Keita

    Having endured a difficult season with injury at Werder Bremen, former Liverpool midfielder Keita will captain Guinea in their second appearance at the Olympics. 

    Keita made the switch from Anfield to Germany last year but made just five Bundesliga appearances, missing the final five games of the season after refusing to play their game against champions-elect, Bayer Leverkusen.

    The 29-year-old has 56 appearances for Guinea across a seven-year international career, scoring 11 times.

  • Guardiola happy at Man City amid England links Guardiola happy at Man City amid England links

    Pep Guardiola insists he is content at Manchester City and focused purely on the season ahead amid suggestions he could succeed Gareth Southgate as England manager.

    Southgate announced his resignation after eight years in charge of the Three Lions last week, in the wake of their Euro 2024 final defeat to Spain.

    Homegrown bosses Graham Potter, Eddie Howe and Lee Carsley have been touted as possible candidates to succeed Southgate, as has Mauricio Pochettino.

    Reports have also suggested the Football Association could approach Guardiola with the intention of having him take over in 2025, when many believe he could step down as City boss.

    While Guardiola has previously spoken of his desire to take an international job, for now, he is focused on City's bid to win an unprecedented fifth straight English top-flight title.

    "I'm really excited for this upcoming season," he said during a press conference on Tuesday.

    "I'm really happy here. Every season I need the break, definitely, but after that, I recharge my batteries and I have the same energy as usual. 

    "I know the competition is coming, and I am fully focused on that."

    City kick off their pre-season tour of the United States when they face Celtic in North Carolina on Tuesday, with fixtures against Milan, Barcelona and Chelsea to follow.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.