England kick-off their UEFA Nations League campaign at Wembley on Saturday with a mouth-watering clash against Spain.
The Three Lions’ are assured of a positive reception after finishing fourth at the World Cup, but manager Gareth Southgate will be eager to build on the foundations his side laid this summer.
England are priced at 33/20 with Novibet sports betting to win the game, with Spain on offer at 7/4 and the draw available at 21/10.
Manchester City star Raheem Sterling and Liverpool midfielder forward Adam Lallana have withdrawn from the fixture, but Southgate has included a number of new faces in his squad.
Manchester United full-back Luke Shaw, Burnley defender James Tarkowski and Southampton’s uncapped goalkeeper Alex McCarthy have been called up as the England boss bids to build for the future.
Chelsea midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek keeps his place after impressing in Russia in the summer, despite playing just 22 minutes in the Premier League this season.
Spain head into the game on a rebuilding mission following their disappointing showing at the World Cup.
Julen Lopetegui’s sacking just days before the tournament started had a negative impact on their performances, and their exit in the last 16 against Russia was a major embarrassment.
Former Barcelona boss Luis Enrique is the man tasked with restoring Spain to their former glories, although his plans for this weekend have been hit by Atletico Madrid striker Diego Costa’s withdrawal from the squad.
The two sides have met 25 times previously, with England winning 13 and drawing three of those meetings.
However, Spain have won four of the last six games – including three in a row between 2004 and 2009. The sides last met two years ago where late goals from Iago Aspas and Isco secured a 2-2 draw for Spain.
This weekend’s game is part of the first round of fixtures in UEFA’s newly-formed competition that has been designed to reduce the number of meaningless friendlies played each year.
The competing nations are split into four leagues – A, B, C and D – based on their UEFA ranking at the end of the 2018 World Cup qualifiers. Within those four leagues, teams are split again into groups of either three or four.
At the end of the cycle, four teams will be promoted and four be relegated. They will then play at their new level in the next competition, starting in 2020.
The winners of the four groups in League A will qualify for the Final Four competition. Spain are favourites to win the inaugural competition, with Belgium, France and Germany also prominent in the betting.
Latest Football Blogs
- Monday Briefing: Leicester a model club, Goalscoring Keepers & Barcelona in shambles
- Morning Mix: Henderson not the answer for United, Ndidi delivers a midfield masterclass
- The stories behind Leicester’s special FA Cup win
- UEFA Women’s Champions League: Last 5 finals
- Arsenal will take on Chelsea and Tottenham in a pre-season charity tournament
- 2021 FA Cup Final: Over land and sea (and Leicester)
- NFT’s: The next big thing within football?
- Review: Manchester City’s route to an emphatic Premier League title triumph
- Why media got the Jens Lehmann racism incident completely wrong
- Manchester City vs Chelsea: 2021 Champions League final preview