Spain will debut in the European Championship in England against Finland on Friday, July 8 at 5:00 p.m. at Stadium MK in Milton Keynes. will not be present there Iina Salmi, a 27-year-old player who has played for Valencia for the last two seasons, not fitting into coach Anna Signeul’s plans. “We had a list of 40 players. The selection of 23 was difficult because the performance of all of them has been good, but the experience and versatility of the players means a lot,” describes the Swedish coach.
Salmi was one of the two Finnish soccer players who have played in Spain this season – the other is Sanni Franssi, from Real Sociedad, who is called up – and therefore knows well the potential of the team. “Spain has a great team with very good players. I have played against them both with the national team [en 2017] like the last two years with Valencia. We would have to do everything perfectly if we want to win them”, he describes. “It is difficult to single out a single footballer. Everyone looks at Alexia Putellas, who is one of the best players in the world, but I would stick with Mapi León. She is very good when it comes to defending, very uncomfortable for the rival attackers, and she also contributes a lot in the offensive aspect”, she underlines.
Although she has not been called up for the European Championship, Salmi has good words for Signeul. “She is a coach with a lot of experience who supports the player a lot. She is a very positive person who always tries to find the bright side of things and that is something that has helped the group all this time to believe in their possibilities. After not To qualify for the 2017 European Championship we had to start from scratch and it hasn’t been easy,” he says. “Anna is very demanding both physically and tactically and she seeks to maximize the performance of each player,” she adds.
Selection of contrasts
Salmi believes that one of Finland’s weapons can be “the team’s mixture of experience and youth. Some bring their experience and others their desire to make the group even stronger.” The contrast between the 36 years of Tinja-Riikka Korpela or the 35 of Anna Auvinen and Essi Sainio and the 21 of Katriina Talaslahti or the 22 of Elli Pikkujämsä and Jutta Rantala is remarkable..
Spain and Finland share a group with Germany and Denmark, that is, the team with the most continental titles and the current European runner-up. “For me it’s the toughest group in the entire European Championship. Denmark has Pernille Harder, who is one of the most complete players in the world, and Germany, in addition to great individuals, has a very strong team with a lot of experience.
After developing his career between Finland (PK-35 Vantaa, HJK), Sweden (Rosengård, Limhamn Bunkeflo), the Netherlands (Ajax) and Spain (Valencia), Iina highlights the benefits of the Spanish game. “In Spain you play very fast, with a lot of intensity and giving a lot of importance to the technique of the players. The League has a high level and any team can give you a fight”, he assures.
Before making his debut against Spain in what will be his fourth European Championship (with the semifinals in the 2005 edition held in England), Finland will play two friendlies: against Japan on June 27 in Turku and against the Netherlands on July 2 in Enschede.
“Finland will be the worst team in their group”
Kari Raita, a Finnish scout, has studied the Nordic team very well. “They will be the worst team in their group. Playing at their best level and hopefully, they still get a point,” he says. “Salmi is Signeul’s blind spot, a very tactical player who they don’t know how to take advantage of. Franssi has done very well in the league, but it’s hard for him to score with the national team,” he says. For this Finnish football expert, “Signeul has used few players, even in friendlies, and players like Sällström have played little because they are injured and others like Rantanen have broken their wrists.”