By 90Min
September 07, 2018

England kick off their first ever UEFA Nations League campaign against Spain at Wembley Stadium on Saturday night.

The Three Lions will receive a warm welcome in the capital, following their fourth place finish at the World Cup in Russia this summer.

Spain begin a new era under the reign of head coach Luis Enrique and will be hoping the former Barcelona manager can guide La Roja to success after a dismal display at the World Cup.

Here's everything you need to know ahead of this Sunday’s Nations League match.


Classic Encounter


Spain 2-4 England (1987)

Then Barcelona striker Gary Lineker was the star of the show in 1987, as England travelled to Spain to face La Roja at the Bernabéu Stadium in an international friendly.

In the space of 33 minutes, Lineker scored four goals to help the Three Lions come from behind to win the match 4-2.

Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/GettyImages

Sir Bobby Robson’s star studded side consisted of the likes of goalkeeper Peter Shilton, Tony Adams, who was making his international debut, captain Bryan Robson, Chris Waddle and  Lineker - a side that was tipped for success in the 1990 World Cup in Italy.

Lineker, who was the only foreign based player in the England squad at the time, scored two goals either side of half time, with Emilio Butragueno and Ramon Vazquez netting for Spain.


Key Battle


Harry Kane vs Sergio Ramos

Harry Kane ended an impressive campaign last season, which saw him net 30 goals in all competitions for Tottenham, with the 2018 World Cup Golden Boot.

The Spurs striker scored six goals for England in Russia and captained his nation to a fourth place finished, but will face a tough match up against Spain captain Sergio Ramos on Saturday night.

Soccrates Images/GettyImages

The Real Madrid star, who recently picked up the UEFA Defender of the Season award, will certainly try his best to nullify any potential goalscoring opportunities Kane tries to create in this weekend’s clash.


Team News


New Spain head coach Luis Enrique surprised a number of fans with his recent squad announcement, with La Liga stars Jordi Alba and Koke absent from proceedings for their Nations League tie against England and the friendly against World Cup runners up Croatia.

Jean Catuffe/GettyImages

La Roja will also be without Manchester City midfielder David Silva, Barcelona defender Gerard Pique and Vissel Kobe's Andres Iniesta, who have all retired from international football following disappointing World Cup displays, while Diego Costa has withdrawn due to personal reasons.


England pair Jamie Vardy and Gary Cahill intend to focus fully on their club careers, and have all but retired from international football following talks with Gareth Southgate, whilst Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling has withdrawn from the squad due to a back injury.


Potential England Lineup: Pickford; Shaw, Stones, Maguire, Walker, Trippier; Henderson, Lingard, Alli; Rashford, Kane.


Potential Spain Lineup: De Gea; Carvajal, Ramos, Azpilicueta, Alonso; Busquets, Saul, Isco, Asensio; Aspas, Morata.


Prediction


Of the 25 meetings between these two teams, England have been victorious on 13 occasions, Spain have picked up nine wins, and the sides have shared three draws, with the previous meeting between the two ending in a 2-2 tie after last-gasp strikes from Iago Aspas and Isco.

Following England’s success and Spain’s capitulation in Russia, the Three Lions faithful may be expecting a victory, but with Spain having won four of the last six meetings, it certainly won’t be straightforward for Gareth Southgate’s men.

Ian MacNicol/GettyImages

But with the performances of late and Spain’s side somewhat weakened through retirements and injuries, England should pick up a victory in their first ever taste of the UEFA Nations League.

Prediction: England 2-1 Spain

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