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Pedri continues to shine as Spain progress through to the knockout rounds

Ross Jackson
Pedri was on fine form once again for Spain
Pedri was on fine form once again for Spain /
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You don't have to be a footballing genius to work out that Spain's Euro 2020 squad isn't quite at the level of the side that secured back-to-back European Championship crowns in 2008 and 2012 along with a World Cup win sandwiched in between.

Players like Xavi and Andres Iniesta have seemed a distant memory when watching some of Spain's performances at Euro 2020 - though fair play to Sergio Busquets for hanging on in there - yet midfield youngster Pedri is proof that there's brighter days ahead.

Even during Luis Enrique's side's underwhelming first two outings at the tournament, the Barcelona man has looked a class above the majority of his colleagues and the opposition.

While some of his midfield teammates look to be content with just keep their passing percentage above 95% by playing safe passes as they plod around the centre of the pitch, Pedri offers impetus and drive to the Spanish side.

Their clash against Slovakia on Wednesday night probably didn't represent Spain's toughest group game in terms of the opposition, but the pressure on Enrique's side to get a result was huge.

Only once since 1992 have Spain failed get as far as the knockout rounds of the European Championship, yet defeat to Slovakia would have meant it was curtains for La Roja's 2020 campaign.

Pedri battles in the midfield
Pedri battles in the midfield / David Ramos/Getty Images

Even for the most experienced of players that's a lot to deal with, yet to heap all that on the shoulders of an 18-year-old and for him still to come out as one of the best performers on the pitch is quite remarkable.

Pedri's performance was definitely aided by a lacklustre Slovakian midfield, with anchor-men Juraj Kucka and Jakub Hromada showing absolutely no urgency whatsoever to close the Barça man down when in possession.

Enrique drafted in Busquets for his first start of the tournament and alongside Pedri the pair had a field day, knocking it between themselves and playing on the half-turn like dads playing against a bunch of kids.

The difference in class was there for all to see, and what's best is the pair barely had to break a sweat whenever they were on the ball. They just sat in the centre circle and dictated the game, yet still Slovakia couldn't get near them.

Pedri had all the time in the world whenever he was on the ball
Pedri had all the time in the world whenever he was on the ball / David Ramos/Getty Images

Now, you don't make it into the Barcelona first team as a teenager without having a bit of something about you, so Pedri being quite good at football probably shouldn't come as a huge surprise.

However, one part of his game which we've not seen so much of is his ability to press and win the ball back.

Slovakian possession in the match was sparse to say the least, but when they did manage to get a foot on the ball Pedri was combative and showed he had the work ethic needed to press and win the ball back.

While it's good to see Busquets back in a Spain shirt at a major international tournament, it's pretty sad to think this might be his last considering he'll be 34 by the time the 2022 World Cup comes around. However, next to him there's a star in the making and Pedri is undoubtedly the future of Spanish football.

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