England v Spain, Sat 7 September, 19:45

Form

Spain have played 13 matches since September of last year and, based on 90 minutes of play, haven’t lost any of them, winning seven and drawing six.

England exceeded expectations and not only reached the World Cup semi-finals but, in Harry Kane, produced the ‘Golden Boot’ winner as the tournament’s leading scorer.  However their form line may be considered discouraging. That run in the World Cup consisted of three wins, three defeats and a normal time draw against Colombia in their last 16 encounter.

The Match

Kane has now scored seven goals in his last six international starts. Interestingly, England’s last 17 goals have been shared between ten players, so they can score from all over the pitch.

For Spain, in their last seven internationals Diego Costa (who will not be playing against England) has scored four goals, with Isco and Aspas chipping in with four and three, respectively.

Spain have kept just three clean sheets in their last ten matches, but have scored in all ten.

England rarely score more than two goals in home internationals these days but have scored in nine of their last 11 games at Wembley.

Dating back to 1992, England have met Spain nine times, winning just two of those games and drawing just one. In eight of those games, England failed to score.

With their five-man defence and protection from midfield, England look tougher to score against these days, although they have only kept one clean sheet in their last ten internationals and have conceded nine goals in those ten matches.

Without a stand-out creative midfield player, England’s defensive approach renders them a little one-dimensional in terms of attacking creativity. They can counter-attack well, but this game doesn’t look likely to be open enough to produce counter-attacking situations.

By contrast, England proved adept from set-pieces in Russia, with defenders John Stones, Harry Maguire and Kieran Tripper all getting among the goals.

Spain’s likely fluid 4-3-3 set-up means they will probably dominate possession. Their side contains more creative flair than England, which will test the home side’s defence.

Isco seems to have come of age for Spain and, with Iniesta now retired, his influence looks set to grow further.

Team News

England will be without Raheem Sterling, who is injured, along with Jamie Vardy and Gary Cahill, who have retired from international duty. As mentioned, Spain will be without Diego Costa (for personal reasons).

Verdict

The stats tell us not to expect a feast of goals, and don’t be surprised if England fail to score.

Spain will surely be keen to impress their new manager and, also, to defeat such a rival as England. They usually do, so Spain to win 1-0 (6/1) or 2-1 (9/1) are tempting options.

Scorer options: Harry Kane is always a threat for England, while Aspas’s recent record for Spain is good, although he may not start.

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