England welcome Wales to Wembley Stadium in their first official international friendly clash in 137 years as both teams prepare for tough Nations League clashes this weekend.
This clash represents the first meeting of these two British rivals since they met in the group stage of Euro 2016 which England won 2-1 after coming from behind after half-time en route to their embarrassing Last 16 loss to Iceland.
England will be without Raheem Sterling after the winger withdrew from the squad with a minor hamstring injury earlier this week.
Chelsea’s Reece James consequently was called up from the U21s squad into the senior squad as Sterling’s replacement and is in line for his debut alongside Bukayo Saka, Harvey Barnes and Dominic Calvert-Lewin who have also received their maiden senior call-ups.
Ben Chilwell, Tammy Abraham and Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho meanwhile are internally banned from this game by Gareth Southgate, after breaching Coronavirus rules at Abraham’s surprise birthday party last weekend in London.
Wales will be without Hal Robson-Kanu after the West Brom striker suffered a broken arm at Southampton on Sunday.
Aaron Ramsey is also sidelined after his Juventus team were forced into fiduciary isolation after Napoli suffered two positive Coronavirus tests prior to their Serie A clash on Sunday, of which was eventually postponed.
- England have won three of five previous official international friendly fixtures against Wales held between January 1879 and February 1883 (W3, L2).
- Wales have lost their only previous trip to the new Wembley Stadium, losing 1-0 in September 2011 in Euro 2012 qualifying.
- England have lost just one of their last 23 home matches against Wales in all competitions (W16, D6, L1).
- Three of Wales’ last four away goals in all competitions have come in before half-time.
- Harry Kane has scored five goals in his last three home appearances for England at Wembley, with just one of his goals coming from the penalty spot.
Although fans aren’t permitted to attend this match, there will certainly be plenty at stake beyond national pride because both managers will be looking to perfect their game plans ahead of tough Nations League matches on Sunday against Belgium and Republic of Ireland respectively.
With Sterling, Abraham and Sancho ruled out up front, I don’t think this will affect Southgate’s plans too much because Calvert-Lewin will be a strong adequate replacement given his current form for Everton, although carrying that momentum into international competition will be tough for the striker especially on his Three Lions debut.
Wales meanwhile seem to have found form away from home so will definitely make this a tough task even without Robson-Kanu, Aaron Ramsey and Gareth Bale but nailing the correct midfield tactics could be key for England if are to get a win here given their superior attacking and defensive quality.
I am therefore expecting England to opt for a more open formation with a five man defence with fullbacks playing as wing-backs and two up front but nailing the creativity in midfield will be crucial to creating chances, otherwise I can see a draw coming here if Southgate opts for the wrong midfield selection.
Prediction: England 2-1 Wales