WILL DYER (@w2Dyer) sends his England verdict from the sunny climes of Madeira. Can the Three Lions put in a performance to get the juices flowing and get the better of an under-powered Spain side?
England v Spain | Tuesday 20:00 | ITV 1
The Three Lions roared home with a 3-0 victory against the Auld Enemy in front of 87,000 at Wembley last Friday. That means it’s now 10 points from the opening four Group F games and four consecutive clean sheets since the embarrassment of Euro 2016.
Gareth Southgate appears to have had a positive impact despite the usual barrage of negativity from the naysayers. He’s been a part of the England set-up for over three years now and had a good record with the Under 21s; W25-D3-L3 giving him an 80% win percentage.
As sure as the sun will set though, the problem was tournament football failure at the U21 Championship in 2015.
England’s impressive record against La Roja
That leads me nicely on to England’s game against Spain on Tuesday night. The Three Lions have a tendency to perform well in these friendlies; In 2011, when international football was in the midst of a Spanish stranglehold, England beat La Roja 1-0 at Wembley.
In fact, England have won two of three home friendlies against the Spanish, both 1-0, and also won their other two home fixtures; once in a qualifier for Euro 1968 and the other the penalty quarter final success at Euro 96.
Almost exactly a year ago these two nations met in a friendly in Alicante where England lost 2-0 to a stunning Mario Gaspar goal and a fine finish from Santi Cazorla. Spain outplayed England in all aspects that day but I think things will be different on English turf.
Spanish understrength and declining
La Roja had a pretty abject European championship this time around. The signs of decline had been there for all to see in the run up to the tournament.
Spain suffered a defeat to Croatia in the group stage and in finishing second found themselves pitted against Italy in the Round of 16. That was the end of the road for them after a typical Italian game plan resulted in a 2-0 win for the Azzurri.
Spain will be without Jordi Alba and Gerard Pique for this tie and that means we will likely see Marca Bartra and Nacho partnered in the centre of defence again. On the left and right it’s Nacho Monreal and Dani Carvajal; hardly an intimidating defence and one I think England could get some joy against.
At the other end of the pitch, Diego Costa is absent through injury too – he’ll be replaced by either Alvaro Morata or Arritz Aduriz. Good forwards but not world class and Andres Iniesta will also be missed.
The betting angle
I’m not for a minute suggesting that England are better than Spain but I’m a little surprised to see them chalked up as 2/1 shots in some places.
We can back England on the +0 Asian Handicap line at 11/10 with Bet365 and that makes a lot of appeal after the confidence boost from the Scotland win. It’s the same as a wager on Draw No Bet, just better value.
England v Spain – England +0 Asian Handicap (11/10 Bet365)