Can England start the UEFA Nations League campaign with a win?
Last updated: September 6, 2018 by Leon Marshal
|Kick-off:||Saturday, 19:45 pm|
|Last Meeting:||England 2 – 2 Spain|
|Competition:||UEFA Nations League|
The Three Lions will be playing their first competitive match since the World Cup in the newly established UEFA Nations League over the weekend against Spain. UEFA hopes the new competition will reduce the amount of meaningless friendlies throughout the football season.
England, who were fourth in the World Cup, went up six places to sixth in the updated FIFA Men’s rankings. The manager, Gareth Southgate, showed confidence in his team by selecting the same squad to feature in the tournament with only Raheem Sterling dropping out due to a back injury sustained during training. Adam Lallana also subsequently had to withdraw due to injury. England have had enough time to build their squad. This will be a perfect barometer to gauge their ability to bounce back after coming close in Russia and to make a statement against one of the big names in world football. In the recent World Cup, England were lucky not to be drawn with any tough competition by the so-called big teams. They only top ten team they faced was Belgium who they lost to twice; first in the group stage where they lost 1-0 and again in the third place play off, this time losing 2-0.
Spain’s new manager, Luis Enrique, will be making his debut as La Furia Roja’s boss since the dramatic sacking of Julen Lopetegui on the eve of the World Cup. The former Barcelona man will be under pressure to deliver in his first competitive game and it will be interesting to see how the players react to his tactics. Spain went up in the rankings also, but just by a single spot to attain ninth place, despite crashing out to hosts Russia in the round of 16. The match will be a great chance for Spain to make a comeback on the world stage and prove their ambitions as one of the best teams in the World.
Gareth Southgate pledges his loyalty to the Three Lions squad that took fourth place in the world at the recently ended World Cup.
Adam Lallana has only featured 17 times in the past year and has already been ruled out of the match with a groin strain alongside Raheem Sterling who withdrew from the team with a back problem.
Diego Costa withdrew from the Spain squad over “personal reasons” meaning Morata (who was side-lined in the World Cup team) will lead the lines.
Jordi Alba and Koke have been left out by Enrique who picked four Chelsea players including Marcus Alonso at the left-back position.
|England (3-5-2):||Pickford, Trippier, Walker, Stones, Maguire, Shaw, Henderson, Alli, Lingard, Kane, Rashford|
|Subs:||Bettinelli, Butland, Tarkowski, Gomez, Alexander-Arnold, Rose, Delph, Dier, Loftus-Cheek, Welbeck|
|Spain (4-2-3-1):||De Gea, Carvajal, S.Ramos, Azpilicueta, M.Alonso, Busquets, Thiago, Isco, Asensio, Aspas, Morata|
|Subs:||Arrizabalaga, Nacho, Albiol, Roberto, Rodrigo, Saul, Suso, Llorente, Martinez, Gaya, Ceballos, Rodrigo|
Head to Head
|Last 5 meetings between the two sides|
|Date||Competition||Game Result||First Goal-scorer|
|07/02/2007||International Friendly||England 0 – 1 Spain||Andres Iniesta 63’|
|11/02/2009||International Friendly||Spain 2 – 0 England||David Villa 36’|
|12/11/2011||International Friendly||England 1 – 0 Spain||Frank Lampard 49’|
|13/11/2015||International Friendly||Spain 2 – 0 England||Mario Perez 72’|
|15/11/2016||International Friendly||England 2 – 2 Spain||Adam Lallana 9’|
Conclusion & Betting Tips
England have home advantage and they have been playing with the same group of players and under their coach for a long time. Spain have a new manager with a different set of players than those that featured in the World Cup, as many of the players have retired or not been called up to the team.
Sterling’s absence will open the door for players such as Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford to redeem himself after receiving a red-card over the weekend in their match against Burnley. Spain will be without Diego Costa but Morata is also a dangerous striker in front of goal, as are the Real Madrid duo of Marco Asensio and Isco, who can produce moments of magic with the ball and shouldn’t be overlooked.
Our tip for this game is under 2.5 goals. Four of the last five meetings between the two sides have resulted in less than three goals and we expect this trend to continue in a tight and cagey affair. A great bookmaker to place your pre-match bets is 888sport.