MX23RW : Friday, September 21 16:17:21
Sep 8, 2018 at 7.45pm UK at ​Wembley Stadium
Attendance: 81,392
England
1-2
Spain
Rashford (11')
FT(HT: 1-2)
Niguez (13'), Rodrigo (32')

Preview: England vs. Spain - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole provides team news, predicted lineups and a full preview of Saturday's UEFA Nations League clash between England and Spain.

England will return to Wembley on Saturday night to take on former world champions Spain in their first ever UEFA Nations League match.

The Three Lions impressively reached the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup, but it was another competition to forget for Spain, who lost to the hosts Russia in the first knockout round.


England

England full-back Kieran Trippier celebrates bringing football one step closer to home with the opening goal in the World Cup semi-final against Croatia on June 11, 2018© Reuters

Football did not technically come home during the summer, with England losing to Croatia in the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup. However, there is no question that the Three Lions captured the imagination of the country with their charge to the latter stages of the competition in Russia.

After progressing through the group stages of the World Cup, England beat Colombia and Sweden to reach the semi-finals of the tournament. Kieran Trippier sent Gareth Southgate's side ahead on the night, but it was not to be as Croatia came from behind to win in extra time.

England also suffered a 2-0 defeat to Belgium in the third-place playoff, meaning that the Three Lions have actually lost three of their last five matches despite the recent positivity. Southgate's side will take on Spain this weekend before hosting Switzerland in a friendly next week as international football resumes.

The UEFA Nations League has been designed to add a competitive element to the international break, and it will provide a summer tournament in the years without a World Cup or European Championship. Croatia are also in Group 4 of League A with England and Spain, and it will be very interesting to see how the Three Lions perform in their four matches against two excellent teams.

It has been almost two years since England welcomed Spain to Wembley for an international fixture, and La Roja needed late goals from Iago Aspas and Isco on that particular night to pick up a 2-2 draw.

England also lead the head-to-head 13 wins to Spain's nine, and Southgate's side will be keen to secure a positive result on Saturday night as they look to build on their success at the 2018 World Cup.

Recent form (all competitions): WLWWLL


Spain

Sergio Ramos in action for Spain on September 2, 2017© Reuters

It would be fair to say that the 2018 World Cup was another tournament to forget for Spain. The 2010 world champions had been tipped as one of the favourites to lift the trophy in Russia, with their collection of players certainly up there when it comes to the best international teams in world football.

Julen Lopetegui was sacked on the eve of the tournament after accepting the Real Madrid job, however, and Fernando Hierro placed in temporary charge. Spain managed to negotiate the group stages despite winning just once, but they lost on penalties to tournament hosts Russia in the round of 16.

Now under the leadership of former Barcelona boss Luis Enrique, Spain will be looking to put down a marker on Saturday night. As mentioned above, La Roja picked up a 2-2 draw when they last travelled to Wembley in November 2016.

Despite England leading the overall head-to-head, Spain have won four of the last six matches between the two nations, although Saturday will be their first competitive fixture since Euro 1996, when England won 4-2 on penalties to squeeze into the semi-finals of the competition.

Enrique has already caused a stir by leaving Barcelona's Jordi Alba out of the squad, and the likes of Pau Lopez, Jose Gaya and Dani Ceballos will be hoping to win their first senior international caps during the next couple of matches.

Unlike England, Spain have another UEFA Nations League match next week as they host the group's other team Croatia on Tuesday night. It is not a competition that matters too much in the grand scheme of things, but there is no question that Enrique will be targeting back-to-back victories in his first two games in charge.

Recent form (all competitions): DWDWDL


Team News

Luke Shaw in action for Manchester United on August 10, 2018© Reuters

Raheem Sterling and Adam Lallana have both withdrawn from the squad through injury, which could open up a starting position for Marcus Rashford.

Harry Kane will lead the line with support from Tottenham Hotspur's Dele Alli, while Southgate is expected to stick with his 3-5-2 formation, with Harry Maguire, John Stones and Kyle Walker due to start at the back.

Goalkeepers Alex McCarthy and Marcus Bettinelli will both be hoping to sample their first taste of senior international football during the next two matches, while Luke Shaw – outstanding for Manchester United this term - is expected to start after his long-awaited return to the set-up.

As for Spain, Chelsea's Marcos Alonso is expected to be rewarded for his fine start to the season with a spot at left-back, but Atletico Madrid forward Diego Costa is out through injury.

David de Gea will keep his spot between the sticks, while a strong La Roja XI will also include the likes of Sergio Ramos, Sergio Busquets and Isco, but Gerard Pique has now retired from international football.

England possible starting lineup:
Pickford; Maguire, Walker, Stones; Trippier, Henderson, Alli, Lingard, Shaw; Kane, Rashford

Spain possible starting lineup:
De Gea; Carvajal, Ramos, Nacho, Alonso; Busquets, Thiago, Saul; Asensio, Morata, Isco


Head To Head

Saturday will be the 26th international meeting between England and Spain, and it is the Three Lions that lead the head-to-head 13 wins to nine.

Only three of their previous 25 matches have finished level, but as already mentioned, their last clash brought a 2-2 draw at Wembley in November 2016.

Spain have won four of the last six meetings between the two teams, but only one of their last 10 match-ups has been a competitive fixture.


Sports Mole Logo

We say: England 1-1 Spain

It is difficult to predict what kind of shape both teams will be in at this stage of the season, with many players not yet fully recovered fitness-wise from the World Cup.

England will fancy their chances of picking up a positive result on home soil though, and we fancy the two teams to play out a 1-1 draw in the English capital.


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Who will win Saturday's clash between England and Spain?

England
Draw
Spain
England
42.6%
Draw
14.9%
Spain
42.6%
Barcelona defender Jordi Alba in action during his side's La Liga clash with Eibar on February 17, 2018
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