Nightmare tournament for Arsenal's Hector Bellerin complete as Spain under-19s crash


Arsenal right-back prospect Hector Bellerin will look back on Spain's under-19 European Championships with disappointment.

Hector Bellerin will return to Arsenal shortly, and may end up a little jealous hearing about his fellow NextGen Series teammates Serge Gnabry and Thomas Eisfeld recounting their stories of the club's pre-season tour of the Far East.

The young Spaniard had his reason for missing the tour, of which he would no doubt have been a part, for he was included in Spain's under-19 European Championships squad for the finals currently taking place in Lithuania.

He had helped them qualify in June, and was seen as a vital member of the squad as Spain went for an unprecedented third tournament sucess at that level in a row.

A win would have seen them make history, but it is fair to say Bellerin's tournament did not go as planned.

It was all going so well, until the final minute of Spain's 1-0 opening win over Portugal, when he was given a straight red card for a late challenge.

Bellerin was suspended for the following two group games, which Spain won 2-0 and 3-2 over Lithuania and Holland, with the defender cutting a frustrated figure from the sidelines.

The eight-team tournament reached the semi-finals on Monday, with Bellerin returning finally for the crunch clash with France.

But his return did not go as planned, with Spain defeated 2-1 after extra time, and eliminated from the tournament thanks to a winning goal from France and PSG's Antoine Conte.

Spain go back to the drawing board, unsuccessful also in the FIFA Under-20 World Cup, a tournament won by France, who will face Serbia in the under-19 final.

Serbia beat Portugal in a shootout with a winning penalty scored by Partizan Belgrade striker Aleksandr Mitrovic, linked earlier this summer with Arsenal.

For Bellerin the late loss caps a disappointing tournament. He will not be heading home with a medal, and missed two of the potential four games he could have played after picking up a needless suspension.

The fact he has missed out on a great pre-season with his club will only rub salt into the wounds, with it likely he would have got opportunities on tour at right-back with Bacary Sagna being utilised in the centre of defence.

He still has an opportunity to stake his claim, and may be on show in the Emirates Cup at the weekend if Arsenal can get him back promptly enough.

But so far it is fair to say his summer has not gone to plan, and needs a drastic upturn in fortunes to get him back on the right track if he is to stake a claim for next season.


image: © NextGen Series

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