THE excellent Daniel McCulloch (@DMcCulloch1984) runs the rule over England’s opening Nations League clash with Spain at Wembley on Saturday night.
England v Spain | Saturday 8th September 2018, 19:45 | Sky Sports
England take on Spain in the much-debated Nations League on Saturday night and I struggle to see this game being a great advert for the new competition.
While this match will be a real test for Gareth Southgate’s side, I believe both sides are still a work-in-progress and cannot see many goals being scored at Wembley.
While England had a great World Cup, getting to the last four of the competition for the first time in 28 years, Spain managed to win just one of their four matches and were dumped out by Russia on penalties.
Luis Enrique is the new boss of La Roja and he has had to deal with retirements of long-time servants Gerald Pique, Andres Iniesta and David Silva. A prickly character, it remains to be seen how successful Enrique will be but despite these personnel losses, he still has an exceptionally talented squad at his disposal.
Three Lions lacking final third punch
Although England enjoyed an excellent tournament in Russia, there remains a concern about their ability to create chances in open play against the top nations. In their five genuinely competitive matches – two games against Belgium and also matches with Colombia, Sweden and Croatia – they scored just one goal from open play.
Moreover, in seven friendly matches against top tier nations during Southgate’s reign – two matches against Germany as well as games with Spain, France, Brazil, Netherlands and Italy – England have drawn a blank on three occasions.
However, what really stands out here is the Three Lions ability to draw these matches. Four of the seven were stalemates, and all four at Wembley finished without a victor.
The betting angles
Additionally, going back to 1990, 11 of England’s 17 matches in knockout tournament football (so against the best sides in the world) have finished a draw in 90 minutes.
In truth, I don’t feel a draw will be viewed as a terrible result for either side. Spain will probably be the happier but as stated previously, I doubt England’s ability to break them down.
England drew 0-0 with Germany and Brazil in fairly recent friendlies and I believe this is a spot too high. If there is a goal, I think a set-piece is likely, so have a look at the best prices on Harry Maguire and Sergio Ramos in the First and Anytime goalscorer markets just prior to kick-off.