U21 European Championship: Rodrigo says Spain have exceeded expectation

Spain: Have 'performed better than expected', according to Rodrigo

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Spain Under-21 striker Rodrigo feels the team have so far exceeded their own expectations with their performances at this summer's European Championship.

The defending champions go into Saturday's semi-final against Norway having finished top of Group B with maximum points from their three games, in which they scored five goals and conceded none.

Rodrigo has no doubt the success of the senior side over the last few years in claiming one World Cup and two European Championships means Spain are viewed as favourites in any match, and says the Under-21s have developed a winning mentality.

Nonetheless, the 22-year-old believes their displays at the tournament in Israel to date have been even better than what they had hoped to produce.

The Benfica man told Fox Sports Asia: "It is going well - we have won the last three games and have a good team and squad.

"We have performed better than we expected to and I hope that we can win two more matches (to win the tournament)."

Asked if he thought Spain were favourites to win the competition, Rodrigo said: "Spain is now the favourite in every game because (the senior team) have won the European Championships and the World Cup, and we have the mentality to win all of our matches. I think that we are the favourites to win this tournament.

"We have a great group (of players) - I have many friends. I have played with some of the team since I was 17 and this is the last year I can be in the Under-21 squad.

"It would be special for the group to win this tournament."

Saturday's other semi-final sees Italy - who finished top of Group A on seven points, two points clear of Norway - take on Group B runners-up Holland.

Italy's Marco Verratti scored when the seniors drew 1-1 with the Dutch in a friendly in February.

And looking ahead to this contest, the 20-year-old Paris St Germain midfielder told www.figc.it: "When you meet teams like Holland, you have to put them in trouble with the speed with which you attack spaces, because they are often pressing up top and then leave a lot of space behind.

"We (Italy Under-21s) must try to attack in the best possible way, be very quick to run with the ball and find the right spaces."

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