Marc Bartra, another victim of a forgotten generation
The generation of the Spanish team that won the Under 21 European Championship against Italy was the great hope to relieve what had been the most brilliant litter in the history of the national team. The bar was high, but the display given by the team led by Julen Lopetegui at that event in Israel gave them a license to dream of repeating unprecedented successes.
That team not only won but imitated that associative game, control and fantasy of the absolute. It was a kind of seed that could grow without limits over the years. Just as Spain won the absolute Euro Cup in 2012 with a resounding 4-0 defeat of Italy in the final, the sub 21s repeated their superiority to defeat Italy with a bulky 2-4 that left no room for doubt about Spanish superiority with a Thiago Alcantara's hatrick and a goal for Isco Alarcón's sentence.
That generation had young pearls that threatened to dominate Spanish and European football in some of the biggest teams on the old continent. David De Gea, Thiago Alcantara, Isco... they were the backbone of a 'Rojita' who was ready to make the leap to the senior level and that European from Israel was just one more vindication of it.
Beyond the big stars, in that national team there was a representative from Tarragona who also had a leading role in the development of the game.
Marc Bartra, a footballer for Sant Jaume dels Domenys and who at that time was a member of FC Barcelona after having made the leap from the Barca youth academy, was a key player in the European Championship and started in the final commanding the center of the rear.
The center-back from Sant Jaume dels Domenys was the starter in that European final in Israel
The 2018 World Cup in Russia was the great stage to show that the illusion that those children had aroused in 2013 was not going to be left in hand. All the players of that generation were going to arrive at full maturity and on top of that they were going to have Julen Lopetegui as the absolute coach. However, the Basque coach signed with Real Madrid to begin training him after the World Cup and that was a move that Rubiales, president of the RFEF, did not like at all, who ended up sacking him before the tournament took place.
Fernando Hierro took over interim and unexpectedly and was unable to turn the tide of a downcast team that had lost its great leader off the pitch. Spain fell on penalties in the round of 16 against Russia in one of the biggest disappointments in living memory. That day was the beginning of the end of a generation that today is more past than present, and that is when they are players who are just over thirty and should be at the peak of their careers.
To reflect the fact that this generation is practically no longer taken into account and has fallen by the wayside, all you have to do is look at the list of 26 players that Luis Enrique has designed for Qatar. In it there are only four players who were part of the sub 21 that won the European Championship in Israel. Carvajal, Koke, Sarabia and Morata, the rest are not there. De Gea, Iñigo Martínez, Nacho, Thiago, Isco or Canales are some of the major absences from a list with an average age of 26 years. Marc Batra, who is dating in Turkey, has not been quoted either. It was his last chance to play in a World Cup, but it's history now.