Gareth Southgate’s England will play host to Julen Lopetegui’s Spain in a prestigious international friendly at Wembley this midweek (8pm Tuesday on ITV1).
The Three Lions made it 10 points from 12 in their 2018 World Cup qualification group last time out, beating rivals Scotland 3-0 in London. Headed efforts from Daniel Sturridge, Adam Lallana (pictured) and Gary Cahill made the difference on Friday night, although the outcome could have been very different had Gordon Strachan’s men been able to match their opponents’ clinical edge in front of goal.
Scotland certainly created their fair share of chances but were made to pay for their profligacy inside the penalty area, with the visitors unable to take advantage of several instances of slack and sloppy England defending. Indeed, there was plenty in Southgate’s side’s showing that could have been better, but the interim manager ultimately deserves credit for overseeing a convincing and important win in front of England’s own supporters at Wembley.
Spain have also amassed 10 points from their first four qualifying matches, a draw with Italy and triumphs over Liechtenstein and Albania followed up with a 4-0 victory against Macedonia at Granada’s Estadio Nuevo Los Carmenes on Saturday evening.
An own goal by Darko Velkoski, a headed effort from Vitolo and further strikes from Nacho Monreal and Aritz Aduriz were enough to secure victory for La Roja, who took a while to get going but in the end proved too strong for their opponents. Spain and Italy’s race to finish top of Group G and qualify automatically for the 2018 World Cup could go down to the wire, with the two countries virtually neck-and-neck at the summit at present.
It will be interesting to see how Southgate approaches Tuesday’s clash with a country who have won three of the last five major international tournaments in which they have participated. On the one hand, he may choose to experiment with a new formation or different personnel given that there are no points on the line, but the fact that a win or a draw would surely be enough for him to land the England job on a permanent basis could lead to the former Middlesbrough boss starting his strongest team in a system that the players are already accustomed to. The latter is probably more likely, although the likes of Harry Kane, Nathaniel Clyne, Ryan Bertrand, Phil Jagielka, Theo Walcott and Jack Wilshere will all be hoping to be included in the starting XI after beginning the Scotland game on the substitutes’ bench.
Lopetegui employed a 4-3-3 configuration against the Macedonians and is likely to stick with that for Tuesday’s trip to London. The likes of Isco, Juan Mata, Jose Callejon, Nolito, Ander Herrera, Iago Aspas and Cesar Azpilicueta were all left out of the starting XI on Friday and will be pushing for a start. Established first-teamers such as Sergio Busquets, David de Gea, Koke and David Silva will also be involved. This Spain team is not as strong as the sides that triumphed at Euro 2008, World Cup 2010 and Euro 2012, but Lopetegui still has some excellent players to call upon.
Our Preview’s England v Spain Betting Tips
As far as this preview’s betting tips’ selections go, we believe that Spain can upset Southgate’s party and win this match. The visitors will, as usual, seek to dominate possession and take the initiative regardless of the fact they are playing on opposition soil, with England’s approach likely to be based around quick transitions and counter-attacking football.
There will probably not be too much to choose between the two sides but Spain may have the edge, with Manchester City playmaker Silva a sensible choice in the anytime goalscorer market.
- Betting Tip: Expect Spain to beat England at best odds of 8/5 with Betfair.
- Betting Tip: Take David Silva to score at any time at a best price of 3/1 with Bet365 or BoyleSports.
Greg Lea is a freelance sports writer. Read the articles that he has written at Just Bookies.