England meet Spain on Friday night at 7.45pm, with Jamie Vardy gunning to start against European champions
England enjoyed a 100% record during their Euro 2016 qualifying campaign, although a different sort of challenge lies in wake this week.
A trip to Alicante to face the European champions looks like a stern test of the Three Lions’ credentials, with Spain also qualifying for next summer’s finals with relative ease.
Perhaps this Spanish team doesn’t have the same fearsome qualities that helped them win back-to-back European Championships while also landing the 2010 World Cup.
However, La Roja enjoyed nine wins from ten in qualifying and have been installed as third favourites behind hosts France and world champions Germany in the outright betting for 2016.
England will look forward to this test, with Roy Hodgson having been able to select a strong squad of players despite missing the likes of Daniel Sturridge, Theo Walcott, Danny Welbeck, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jack Wilshere, Phil Jagielka and Leighton Baines.
It’s not actually certain that all of these players will go to France next summer, especially with Jamie Vardy and Dele Alli having enjoyed especially strong starts to the campaign, while Fabian Delph, Jonjo Shelvey and Eric Dier will also hope to strengthen their cause over the next few days.
This match will be followed by a clash against France, with England 15/4 with bet365 to win in Alicante despite the fact that this is a friendly game and that Spain are missing Sergio Ramos and Juanfran from their squad.
Vicente Del Bosque will use matches against England and Belgium to try out new players such as Juventus’ Alvaro Morata who has just six caps to his name, while Isco and Thiago Alcantara can also expect to get some game time.
Spain are a best price 4/5 with Betway to win the game, although backing at odds-on is a dangerous beast considering both sides will make multiple changes throughout the game and England do boast a strong defensive record.
It must be tempting for Hodgson to let Jamie Vardy loose in this game after plundering so many Premier League goals this season, with Harry Kane in a similarly rich vein of form although Wayne Rooney will surely lead out the team for this international.
Raheem Sterling should also get a chance to stake a place in the first team on a permanent basis, while Dele Alli and Ross Barkley are both exciting prospects looking to play their way into the reckoning for Euro 2016.