Spain Vs England Preview
The Three Lions may have recorded a perfect record in qualifying to Euro 2016, but it would be naive to suggest that Roy Hodgson’s side is flawless.
The caliber of opposition that the Three Lions faced in their group was questionable, at the very least, but they finally have a chance to test themselves against the continent’s best on Friday night.
Spain may have been dethroned in disappointing fashion in Brazil but they remain a force, even if their all out tiki-taka style has had to be altered.
The hosts are expected to field a somewhat experimental side, like England, as they attempt to settle on a formula that could help them become the first side to win next summer’s tournament for the third time in a row.
England will hope to progress to the latter stages too, but the jury is out as to whether the nation actually believes such a feat is beyond Hodgson’s transitional team or not.
England secured 10 victories from 10 to cruise towards France as Group E winners, but they were not pushed to produce their best football.
Switzerland were Hodgson’s nearest challengers but were swept aside, courtesy of a pair of 2-0 victories, in a group of teams that embodied the drawbacks of expanding the European Championships to 24 teams.
Spain’s were beaten just once en route to the finals when they were edged out by Slovakia in Zilina. However, La Furia Roja were all put assured of top spot by that point and motivation was likely to have been on the wane.
The last time the two sides met England were the victors as Frank Lampard bundled home from close range in November 2011, which ended Spain’s run of three successive wins.
Eric Dier’s impressive form for Spurs has earned the midfielder a first senior call up while fellow Spurs man Dele Alli has retained his place in the squad.
Jack Grealish has had to wait for recognition, despite committing his future to England over Republic of Ireland, while James Milner is the only player to withdraw through injury to date.
The Liverpool midfielder’s hamstring complaint could pave the way for Dier to make his debut and there are places up for grabs in all areas of the team.
Wayne Rooney has not been at his best for Manchester United of later, but expect the skipper to start in Alicante.
Spain has several familiar faces in their ranks but it is unclear whether the majority of them can stake a claim to start.
Diego Costa has been out of form but is a contender to lead the line, but Chelsea teammate Cesc Fabregas may have to make do with a place on the bench.
Versatile full back Cesar Azpilicueta is expected to start at either right or full back but Santi Cazorla, who was withdrawn during the north London derby with dizziness, may not be risked.
Isco and Sergio Ramos have withdrawn through injuries and figures such as Nolito and Paco Alcacer, of Celta Vigo and Valencia receptively, could be given a chance to impress.
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