England vs Spain: Hard to split Wembley foes for Nations League opener
England vs Spain Match Preview and Predictions
England are back at Wembley for the first time since their impressive run to the World Cup semi-finals as they take on Spain in the inaugural Nations League.
[All odds correct at time of publication]
When is it? Saturday 8th September
What time is kick-off? 20:00
Where is it being played? Wembley
Which channel is it on? Sky Sports Main Event
Two months ago Kieran Trippier had England fans dreaming of a first World Cup final since 1966 with a fifth-minute opener against Croatia only for Ivan Perisic to equalise in the second half before Mario Mandzukic won it in extra time.
Former Barcelona coach Luis Enrique takes charge of Spain for the first time since Julen Lopetegui was sacked two days before the start of the World Cup.
England vs Spain Betting Tips
Here are our three best bets for the Nations League game at Wembley:
- England and Spain to draw 21/10
- First goal between 21-30 mins 11/2
- Both teams to score in 2nd half 3/1
England meet Spain unexpectedly above their opponents in the FIFA world rankings with Gareth Southgate's men three places above Saturday's opponents in sixth place.
The sides last met two years ago at Wembley when Southgate was denied victory in his final match as interim manager with two late goals from Iago Aspas and Isco in a 2-2 draw.
Since then Southgate oversaw a quiet revolution by going with youth at the World Cup and many players in the starting line-up in 2016 are no longer in the squad, but change is even more apparent in Spain's travelling party.
David Silva, Andres Iniesta and Gerard Pique have all retired from the international arena, while Jordi Alba, so critical of Luis Enrique's spell at Camp Nou, is out of the squad as is Diego Costa who has pulled out for personal reasons.
Feature match previews
If you're interested in tips on this weekend's internationals, check out more in-depth previews below:
The Three Lions may be on a high after their exploits in Russia but the first of our England vs Spain betting tips is for a draw at odds of 21/10.
Southgate continues to look at new players like Southampton goalkeeper Alex McCarthy and he has also handed recalls to Luke Shaw, James Tarkowski and Joe Gomez.
The expected goals graphic shows both teams have similar aggregates in both attack and defence in the last six matches
Before the World Cup started England played three high-profile friendlies against Brazil, Germany and Italy, drawing on each occasion, so a share of the spoils looks on the cards just like two years ago.
Isco was one of the few players to emerge with credit from Spain's disappointing showing at the World Cup and could be the man to break the deadlock at 8/1.
The Real Madrid star scored a superb equaliser the last time Spain faced England at Wembley and his expected goals stats show he is a threat, especially in the absence of Costa.
Sergio Ramos appears to be Spain's designated penalty taker as he is for Real Madrid and the central defender is one of the world's best players at scoring headers from set-pieces.
Costa's withdrawal means Ramos has been the second most threatening player in expected goals terms over the last 10 matches and looks good value to score anytime at 11/2.
Where the game will be won and lost
As Barcelona coach, Enrique abandoned the tiki-taka philosophy deployed under Pep Guardiola for a more direct style so that the ball was delivered more quickly to the likes of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar.
Spain never quite recovered from the dismissal of Lopetegui and as well as they played in their opener against Portugal they looked vulnerable against Iran and Morocco, teams hardly in the top echelon of world football.
Enrique has already made his mark by omitting Alba, Koke and Aspas from a youthful squad, although the latter was reinstated after Costa withdrew from the squad.
With so many changes it's difficult to predict how the match will transpire but we do like the look of the first goal to be scored between 21-30 minutes.
The above graphic shows that both teams tend to get busy in attack during that period and we fancy Spain's players will be keen to impress their new coach from the start.
The last of our England vs Spain predictions is for both teams to score in the second half at 3/1. As consistent as England are at creating chances, they have looked vulnerable in the final 10 minutes while Spain have created the bulk of their best chances after the break in their last 10 matches.
Southgate says he will largely name the same side that started against Croatia, with Luke Shaw pushing to come in for the overlooked Ashley Young as Raheem Sterling's injury withdrawal opens up an attacking role.
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