By Neil Leverett
- Gareth Southgate’s England face Spain in Seville on Monday night in UEFA Nations League
- Three Lions look to build on goalless draw in Rijeka last Friday night against Croatia
- La Furia sit top of Group A3 after 2-1 win at Wembley last month
SEVILLE, SPAIN – England face the latest test of the new Gareth Southgate era on Monday evening, as the Three Lions face Spain at Benito Villamarin in Andalusia.
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England face Spanish inquisition in Seville
As the final round of games of Matchday Four continue in the UEFA Nations League, Gareth Southgate’s England face a stiff test of their credentials as the Three Lions face Spain at Benito Villamarin on Monday night.
After a goalless behind-closed-door stalemate in Rijeka against Croatia last Friday, the visitors travel to face an in-form La Furia, who have scored ten goals in their last two international games and put Wales to the sword in Cardiff on Thursday 4-1.
More impressively, Spain under the new guidance of Luis Enrique demolished their Group A3 opponents and World Cup runners-up Vatreni by six-goals-to-nil last month in Alicante.
Southgate’s men also went down to defeat in the reverse fixture between the sides in North London on Matchday One via a Rodrigo Moreno goal, so can England exact a dose of Andalusian revenge on Monday evening?
Three Lions seek platform to roar
On a surreal evening in Croatia’s third city last Friday, the Three Lions were unfortunate not to come away with all three points on a rather off-key occasion for both sides.
The visitors hit the woodwork on two occasions from Harry Kane and Eric Dier respectively, as Marcus Rashford was also gifted with a number of openings to notch what would have been a winning goal.
As Southgate opted to venture away from his 3-4-3 system that had paid of so handsomely during last summer in Russia, England were nonetheless on the front foot for large periods of the game in front of empty stands, and can take positives from playing with a back four.
In what become something of an experimental procedure however, it was the addition of Jadon Sancho for his international debut in the final twenty minutes that provided England with most excitement.
The Borussia Dortmund flyer – who has provided eight assists in the Bundesliga this season – is knocking on the door to start in Seville, as is the returning Harry Winks and a primed James Maddison, ready to be unleashed on a Spanish side that have seemingly erased memories of their World Cup exit only months ago.
Andalusian cauldron awaits Southgate’s charges
England’s record on Spanish soil does not make for aesthetic viewing, which makes a trip to Iberia than than appetising – on paper at least.
The Three Lions have not won on Spanish soil in over 30 years, in fact we have to go back to February 1987 for their last win, when Gary Lineker netted a remarkable four goals at the Santiago Bernabeu in Madrid to topple Miguel Munoz’s men in a friendly.
Whilst Sevilla top La Liga in the early stages of this season domestically, it is their league rivals Real Betis who play host on Monday at Benito Villamarin and a cauldron atmosphere is set to welcome the World Cup semi-finalists.
Despite being without two of their star men in Marco Asensio and Isco, Spain are still blessed as usual with a plethora of alternatives to face England.
Having played rising stars in Real Madrid’s Dani Ceballos and Atletico Madrid’s Rodri in central midfield in the principality, Enrique could again stick with a similar starting XI, however Sergio Busquets is likely to come back in to marshal England in the middle of the park. Former Liverpool winger Suso is also a likely candidate to line up on the right wing.
As many as 60,000 fans could fill the Villamarin on Monday evening, keen to make the visitor’s evening as uncomfortable as possible. There will almost certainly a good measure in youth in both sides, which should make for another fascinating encounter between world football heavyweights.
England face Spain at Estadio Benito Villamarin in Seville on Monday evening, kick off, 7.45pm BST.
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