Roy Hodgson made up for England’s unambitious displays in Brazil 2014 by guiding the Three Lions to a perfect 10 wins from 10 in their Euro 2016 qualifiers. In a group featuring Estonia, Lithuania, San Marino, Slovenia, and Switzerland, Hodgson’s England scored 31 and conceded only three in 10 games. Spain represent England’s first real challenge in quite some time.
Although England disappointed at the last World Cup, it was Spain’s unexpected free-fall as reigning champions that was all the more shocking. However, Spain’s football association chose to leave Vicente del Bosque in charge and he’s already managed to turn performances around. In 10 games, del Bosque won nine from 10 and finished five points in front of Slovakia in group C. Spain were efficient in scoring 23 goals, while conceding only three.
The current Spain team still has quality in goal, defence, and midfield, but they are glaringly weak up front. While Chelsea’s Pedro can be used as a forward, he is a more natural winger. At present, Spain’s scoring hopes rest on the young shoulders of 22-year-old Valencia striker Paco Alcácer, who scored five times in the qualifiers.
Injuries have constantly forced Roy Hodgson to change his ideal first XI. Daniel Sturridge appeared destined for a starring role up front before injury curtailed those plans. In fact, Sturridge could not even make it into the latest England squad. Other key losses have included midfielders Jack Wilshere and Fabian Delph.
For the Spain game, Hodgson is expected to give playing time to Raheem Sterling, Ross Barkley, Adam Lallana, and James Milner. Wayne Rooney could start the game, with the in-form Harry Kane on hand to replace the Man Utd striker if he continues his poor run of scoring.
Tip one: Spain @ 1.75
Tip two: Over 2.25 goals
Spain’s world-class midfielders are likely to get the better of an England group still figuring things out with each other, so victory is likely for the Spaniards. Friendlies can be a littler looser than qualifiers, which is why over 2.5 goals could be on the cards.