90min
Our 21

Pedri arrives as superstar despite Spain's Euro 2020 exit to Italy

Matt O'Connor-Simpson
Pedri has had an outstanding Euro 2020
Pedri has had an outstanding Euro 2020
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20 years from now when Pedri has retired with several mantelpieces worth of silverware, we will likely pinpoint 6 July 2021 as his arrival as a superstar on the global stage.

Once his tears have dried the player himself should be able to look back on his performance in Spain's Euro 2020 semi-final exit to Italy on penalties with pride too.

Against the Azzurri on Tuesday night Pedri was - amid world-class company - the most creative midfielder on the pitch.

He is only just old enough to visit Popworld, but everything good his side did before Alvaro Morata's brief and sudden transformation into a demigod, involved the youngster heavily. Right from the outset he was finding space between the lines.

In the first 20 minutes his stomping ground was the left half-space and it was from here that he carved open Italy's defence for the first time. Taking a pass from Sergio Busquets on the half-turn - as the man he has been compared to, Andres Iniesta, did so many times in tournaments past - Pedri fizzed a ball through to Mikel Oyarzabal.

Pedri
Pedri was distraught at half time but he played extremely well / Facundo Arrizabalaga - Pool/Getty Images

Tragically the pass did not get the finish it deserved, with Oyarzabal failing to take the ball in his stride.

Not to worry, though. Pedri may only be 18 and he might have played near enough every minute of his side's tournament so far, but he continued to bubble with joyous creativity for the rest of the first half.

As things progressed he more frequently he popped up in the right half-space. Once he'd made himself comfortable he got to work. Again he fired a ball through the lines to Oyarzabal in the box who then shifted it off for Dani Olmo, who again squandered the chance.

By the time the half-time whistle was blown, social media was awash with rave reviews of Pedri's incredible performance. A quick glance at his stats made it easy to see why.

The diminutive midfielder had not misplaced a single pass during the entire 45 minutes period and also never looked like being dispossessed. The classiest players glide around the pitch and this was exactly what Pedri was doing at Wembley. His feet barely seemed to be touching the floor and he rolled tackle after tackle and made one-touch pass after one-touch pass.

His first-half performance is even more impressive when you consider the game also featured some of the best midfielders of their generation in Marco Verratti and Sergio Busquets. Yet, despite this illustrious company, a slight teenager who would not look strange sporting braces on his teeth was the one influencing things in the final third.

Pedri may not have reached the creative heights of his first-half display after the break but he never failed to look entirely relaxed in possession. As the game wore on his more senior teammates were hauled off for fresh legs. Not Pedri, though.

No, he remained Luis Enrique's talisman right up to the point that Spain exited the competition on penalties, misplacing just two of his 67 passes during his 120 minutes on the field.

His ludicrous display capped off a hugely impressive Euro 2020. Although there was plenty of hype surrounding him before the competition kicked off - we didn't pick him for the Our 21 series for nothing - it is now impossible for anymore with even a passing interest in European football to ignore his unfathomably high potential.

The 2020s are going to be all about Pedri - and we cannot wait for it.


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