Saturday 09 November 2019, 12:15

Pablo Moreno: Spain's do-it-all No9

  • Pablo Moreno joined Juventus after scoring over 200 goals in La Masia

  • At Brazil 2019 he's co-leading Spain in assists

  • "Goals, assists, whatever – everything for the team"

Pablo Moreno bears the reputation of a consummate goalscorer. A touted talent for Spain, the Granada native tore through Barcelona's famed La Masia, finding the back of the net over 200 times across their youth ranks before moving to Juventus last summer. Success has followed him to Turin, where he scored less than five minutes into his first UEFA Youth League match this season.

But it's not all about goals for Moreno in Brazil. He's proven himself as a creative hub in the No9 role for La Rojita's thriving attack at the FIFA U-17 World Cup Brazil 2019™, registering more assists than goals thus far.

“I always work for the team," Moreno told "I just want to do the best thing possible at any given moment to help the team. If it’s goals, assists, whatever – everything for the team.”

Once again given the starting nod at centre forward for Spain's Round of 16 tie against Senegal, Moreno was instrumental in setting up the opening goal. Shielding his defender at the top of the box, the No19 received a pass from Roberto Navarro - another La Masia product - and immediately returned service to play his team-mate in on goal. Navarro made no mistake with his finish, and Moreno collected his second assist of the tournament en route to a 2-1 win.

Drawing the attention of opponents with his work rate and intelligent movement, Moreno has created opportunities for the rest of La Rojita's attackers at Brazil 2019. Of course he's also hit the target, scoring his first World Cup goal against Tajikistan in the group stage.

“We play attractive football," Moreno said of Spain's style. "Everyone is good on the ball, and we play vertically, too. What I always say is that we are a team. We are a family, and that’s how we’re able to win matches.”

Over a year into his transition from Spanish to Italian club football, Moreno continues to climb towards making his senior team debut. He was a member of the matchday squad for the Bianconeri against Genoa late last season in the absence of Cristiano Ronaldo, but finished as an unused substitute.

“The game is more physical in Italy, whereas in Spain it’s more about touches on the ball and combination play," he said. "But I’m growing comfortable and accustomed to the Italian style now.”

Pablo Moreno of Spain U-17 in action

He joins a handful of Juventus players competing at this FIFA U-17 World Cup. Two of his club team-mates, Franco Tongya of Italy and Santiago Ocampos of Paraguay, also count themselves as quarter-finalists. They even matched up against one another in group play, with La Albirrojita getting the better of Gli Azzurrini.

"After that game I spoke to both, and don't worry, everything was cool," Moreno said, smiling. "We’ve all definitely been talking here. Those guys are friends of mine, and we have good relationships."

While Moreno could compete against his friends later in the competition, up first will be the formidable France, fresh off a 4-0 demolition of Australia in the Round of 16. The encounter is perhaps Brazil 2019's most anticipated match to date. Four-time runners-up at the U-17 world finals - most recently at India 2017 - could this Rojita bunch top their European rivals and go on to lift the trophy at last?

“The truth is we have been playing really well," said Moreno. "We’re in sync and working together as a team. If we keep on this way, we can make it back to the final and go one step further this time.”