England and Spain will face each other in League A Group 4 of the Nations League. The tournament offers an alternative means of qualification for the 2020 European Championship, which guarantees that the stakes will be high. But not so high that there would be no room for experimentation.
The Independent reports that England coach Gareth Southgate has said: the upcoming Nations League games will be “great opportunities for us to develop, improve, try things, look at players. We have to try to constantly evolve and improve.” The prospect of the manager trying things and testing players against Spain makes predicting the match somewhat harder.
There are a few question marks about the Spanish team, as well. First and foremost, they will have a new coach in Luis Enrique. According to legendary striker David Villa, the former Barcelona FC manager has the potential to lead Spain to glory. Whether Enrique will indeed pull that off remains to be seen.
What does England’s World Cup performance reveal about their possible tactical decisions for the Nations League?
Online betting sites in the UK suggest that England has a realistic chance (9/5) to win the match, but will have to learn their lessons from the 2018 World Cup. Their finishing fourth surpassed not only the wildest dreams of English football fans but also even Southgate’s own expectations. However, their semi-final and third place play-off matches raised concerns about their potential against top teams.
It has been argued that the biggest hurdle in the way of England’s team is its own midfield. According to commentators, they lost to Croatia in the World Cup because they were beaten in midfield and resorted to playing long balls.
While England has to strengthen their midfield, their plan for finishing will surely not be changed. Although some fans have criticised Harry Kane for increasing his World Cup goal count on penalties and set-pieces, he has impressive results: he won the Golden Boot Award. England will continue to rely on set-pieces, and spot kicks could indeed be a good counter to Spain’s pass-heavy playing style (not to be confused with the classic tiki-taka).
Spain’s expected tactical changes
The key factor deciding whether Spain will beat England (the odds are 6/4 that they will) is their attacking force. Some, including Fabregas, feel that Fernando Hierro, who filled the Spanish team’s managerial position in the World Cup after original coach Julen Lopetegui had become unavailable just two days before the start of the tournament, made wrong decisions: Hierro sent his most defensive players on the pitch.
Andres Iniesta, who could have contributed to attacks better than Koke, did not appear in the first half of the match against Russia. This resulted in a lack of attacking power and a failure to pry open Russia’s defense, whose plan to take the game to a penalty shoot-out paid off.
Fortunately, Enrique is a manager who knows how to make the changes the Spanish side needs right now. Football fans might remember that it was under his direction that Barcelona FC transitioned from the classic tiki-taka to a more direct style of play. If he will be able to encourage as much direct play in Spain’s national team as he did in Barcelona, England will face a very difficult opponent.
What England vs Spain Nations League odds are on offer?
England and Spain’s latest match, a friendly in 2016, ended with a 2-2 result. Their last encounter in a major tournament, a quarter-final at the Euro ‘96, ended 0-0 and had to be decided by a penalty shoot-out. Despite this, bookies suggest that a draw is the least likely outcome for the Nations League clash: the odds for that option are 11/5 (i.e., 3.20).
At 6/4 (i.e., 2.0), Spain is slightly favored over England (9/5, i.e., 2.80), but anything could happen. If that seems somewhat discouraging to you, a “draw no bet” is a perfect choice—i.e., when the bookies refund your full stake in case of a draw (you can only lose if the team you’re placing the “draw no bet” loses). The odds for that option are 1/1 (2.00) on England and 8/11 (1.72) on Spain.
Looking for bolder bets to maximize your returns? If you are critical about England’s ability to fortify their midfield and believe they will lose, or if you have little faith in Spain after their disappointing World Cup run, you should check out Bet365 Sportsbook, one of the best online betting sites in the United Kingdom. You’ll find very profitable England vs Spain Nations League odds on that site if you want to predict the correct score, the winning margin and more.