Our Big Game Focus today focuses on the UEFA Nations League, as England take on Spain in Group 4 of League A.
The two sides were on course to meet in the semi-finals of the World Cup in Russia this year, but Spain were eliminated by the hosts in the first knock-out phase. The last time they played each other, England recorded an impressive 2-2 draw, a result that appeared to rubber stamp the FA’s decision to hand Gareth Southgate the manager’s job on a permanent basis. His opposite in the dugout, Luis Enrique will take charge of his first match as manager of the Spanish national team after replacing caretaker Fernando Hierro.
Here is our preview of the match, including tips and team news.
Spain have scored two goals in each of their last two matches against England. As they look to bounce back from a disappointing World Cup campaign, they will be fired up to repeat that feat against their opponents, who themselves conceded two goals in each of their last two matches at the World Cup. Odds for Spain Over 1.5 Goals are at a mouth-watering 2.70 here.
Both Teams to Score occurred in two of La Roja’s last three matches. One can see the same recurring in this match between two of the top ten teams in the current FIFA World rankings; England are sixth and Spain ninth. The last match between the two sides ended 2-2. Bet here on Both Teams to Score, at fantastic odds of 1.90.
England might have lasted longer than their rivals at the World Cup, but Spain’s Round of 16 loss to hosts Russia remains their only defeat in 24 matches. Southgate’s men, on the other hand, have in fact lost three of their last five matches. They have also lost and drawn to the Spaniards in their last two encounters, with their last victory in the fixture coming courtesy of a Frank Lampard goal in November 2011. Click here for solid odds of 1.40 to back Spain Double Chance.
Adam Lallana and Raheem Sterling have pulled out of the Three Lions squad with injury. Marcus Rashford could partner Harry Kane up front, or Southgate could opt to play Ruben Loftus-Cheek in midfield and push Jesse Lingard further forward. Luke Shaw has earned a recall for England after missing out on the World Cup, and will compete with Danny Rose for a starting spot.
It is going to be quite a different face of Spain to kick-start Enrique’s era, due to a couple of factors. David Silva, Gerard Piqué and Andrés Iniesta have all retired, while Diego Costa withdrew from the squad for personal reasons. Marcos Alonso is likely to start his first match for Spain after Enrique left Jordi Alba entirely out of the team.
England: Pickford; Walker, Stones, Maguire; Trippier, Alli, Henderson, Loftus-Cheek, Shaw; Kane, Lingard
Spain: De Gea; Carvajal, Ramos, Nacho, Alonso; Roberto, Busquets, Thiago; Asensio, Morata, Isco