England v Spain Preview: A close contest in prospect
For the first time since Gareth Southgate replaced Sam Allardyce as England manager the bookmakers have the Three Lions as underdogs for a match on the international stage. The former Middlesbrough has been solid, if unspectacular, in difficult circumstances but faces the final and sternest test of his four-match interim reign at Wembley on Tuesday night.
Ladbrokes make Spain a 6/4 (2.50) chance to pick up a win in this high-profile friendly while England are marginal outsiders at 19/10 (2.90). Neither side look set to be at their strongest in terms of personnel after some big names returned to their respective clubs due to injury worries.
La Roja’s defensive absentees are perhaps the most eye-catching with the likes of Gerard Pique, Sergio Ramos and Jordi Alba all unavailable for Julen Lopetegui, who will also have to make do without regular midfielder Andres Iniesta and the in-form Diego Costa.
England are also missing a key attacking asset after Harry Kane, who has only just returned form a seven week spell on the sidelines, returned to Tottenham.
These absences could mean that the game lacks a little spice, but the strength in depth that Lopetegui can call upon is an asset of this squad and Alvaro Morata could well lead the line for the visitors. The home side are unlikely to experiment too much, especially in the early stages, with Southgate still not assured of taking up the managerial role on a full time basis.
With that in mind an industry best price of 23/10 (3.30) about the draw certainly holds some appeal for what looks a well matched affair between two international teams in transitional periods. Spain have drawn two of their last three friendlies on the road (against Italy and Romania) so it would be no surprise to see another stalemate here.
Elsewhere, the layers are clearly expecting something of a low-scoring encounter, offering just 8/13 (1.63) that the match sees no more than two goals. That’s something that has occurred in Spain’s last seven friendlies away from home.
Those who can foresee this clash bucking such a trend can get 6/5 (2.20) with Ladbrokes about three or more goals being scored. Both teams to score is also on offer at 17/20 (1.85) but that price could drift closer to kick off if the trend of opposing goalmouth action continues.
Those searching for a goalscorer angle on this game need look no further than Manchester City’s David Silva. The Spaniard hasn’t sparkled in front of goal under Pep Guardiola but he is regularly a scorer for his national side with 28 goals in 105 appearances and should line up on the left hand side of a three pronged attack. Ladbrokes go 5/2 (3.50) that the 30-year-old makes his mark at Wembley and if he starts the match as expected, that looks worth a small investment.