Two months after their heroic exploits climaxed in a fourth placed World Cup finish, England welcome Spain to Wembley for their first match in the UEFA Nations League.
Unlike their hosts, Spain are under the new regime of Luis Enrique following a chaotic summer with Julen Lopetegui’s shock sacking on eve of World Cup before a shock Round of 16 exit at Russia’s hands.
As La Furia Roja continue to rediscover their quality of 2008-12, is this England’s time to regain their spot amongst the world’s best footballing teams?
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England will be without the injured pair of Adam Lallana (groin) and Raheem Sterling (back).
Sterling’s starting spot is expected to be taken by Marcus Rashford, who will partner Harry Kane up front.
Gary Cahill, Phil Jones, Nick Pope, Jamie Vardy and Ashley Young are the five World Cup stars who haven’t be selected for this squad, with Cahill, Vardy and Young not expected to be considered unless circumstances dictate.
Spain are without Diego Costa who is absent for personal reasons whilst first team regulars; Andres Iniesta, Gerard Pique and David Silva have all retired from international football.
Following a disappointing start to season for Manchester United, David De Gea could be replaced in goal by Chelsea’s Kepa Arrizabalaga.
- England have lost three of last five meetings with Spain (W1, D1, L3), although all five were friendlies.
- In last five competitive meetings, England have emerged victorious on all five occasions, keeping clean sheet on three of those occasions.
- The last meeting came here at Wembley in November 2016, finishing 2-2. Out of the four goal scorers, only Spain’s Iago Aspas and Isco feature in the squads. Adam Lallana and Jamie Vardy were England’s scorers.
- England manager, Gareth Southgate is unbeaten in two meetings against Spain as player and manager (W1, D1)
I do worry for Spain here because Enrique is sticking with his 4-3-3 formation from his time at Barcelona.
His midfield selection however is quite young with only two goals between them this season (Saul and Thiago – 1 goal each), which is a real worry on top of a forward line who also have netted a combined two goals so far for their clubs in recent weeks.
England meanwhile have a new generation of talent who are in form with a combined ten goals between them from across the whole squad in just four Premier League games.
I am therefore going for an England win here if don’t repeat what happened late on in November 2016.
Prediction: England 2-1 Spain
Result: England 1-2 Spain