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Check out our expert preview for England's clash with Spain
Check out our expert preview for England's clash with Spain

Ben Coley looks ahead to Saturday's clash between England and Spain at Wembley.

Recommended bets: England v Spain

1.5pts England to beat Spain at 2/1

0.5pt e.w. Kieran Tripper to score first at 30/1 (1/5 1,2,3)

For details of advised bookmakers and each-way terms, visit our transparent tipping record

After England wisely opted against an open-top bus tour for finishing fourth at the World Cup, Saturday's encounter with Spain at Wembley should have something of a returning heroes atmosphere and it's one they can extend with a narrow victory.

A couple of months off the Russian sauce allows us to reflect with sobriety upon their run to the semi-finals, but it was undeniably much better than had been expected and, briefly, allowed for those of a sunny disposition to forget all about the wider world. Sport is brilliant for that.

The UEFA Nations League
WHAT IS THE NATIONS LEAGUE? CLICK ON THE IMAGE FOR ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW

Now, as an Indian summer careers towards its end, it's back to reality with a game which interrupts the excitement of domestic football's return, even if this is no friendly following the introduction of the UEFA Nations League and a clash with top-class opponents.

While England will seek to build on their efforts in Russia with another young squad, for Spain it's the beginning of (another) new era following the retirement of Gerard Pique, Andres Iniesta and David Silva, with Luis Enrique now at the helm after Julen Lopetegui's calamitous summer departure which forced Fernando Hierro to take charge of their abridged World Cup campaign.

Enrique, though, doesn't blame Lopetegui for Spain's early exit at the hands of the tournament hosts, instead pinning their under-performance on late night antics such as hours-long games of Ludo. What's 'Crazy Gang' in Spanish?

All that is no more - Ludo has been forbidden, there will be no mobile phones at the dinner table, the PlayStations have been packed away and it's fruit over fried food - so it'll be interesting to see how regime change goes down with a group who, despite their success this century, teeter on the brink of implosion much of the time.

Enrique is, of course, a Spanish football icon who commands the respect of his players and will probably get away with such an authoritarian approach in a way which Fabio Capello perhaps could not when in charge of England, who have by contrast bought into Gareth Southgate's ethos very quickly.

Southgate will be without Raheem Sterling in an otherwise fairly familiar, youthful squad while for Spain, Diego Costa is absent which means Alvaro Morata should start along with team-mate Marcos Alonso, who has been selected in favour of Jordi Alba.

Alonso has spoken of how Enrique's training sessions are similar to those he's had to become familiar with under Maurizio Sarri this summer and he's considered at 20/1 to score first in what should be a tight game between two sides who don't lose often outside of summer tournaments.

England's Wembley record is impressive, though, and they hold a key advantage over their guests in that they are settled, understanding of what their manager is trying to achieve and, clearly, wrapped in a feel-good factor which has seldom been seen since Euro 96.

It's that which should make them extremely hard to beat so while the default move for many will be to look into backing a classier Spain line-up at 17/10, it's the hosts who make more appeal at 2/1.

Supporting England draw-no-bet at the slimmest shade of odds-against is the safer option but we'll supplement a small bet on the home side with Kieran Trippier to score first at as big as 30/1 in a place.

Trippier fired home a free-kick against Croatia for his first England goal and that should ensure he remains a key part of set-piece plans for a side who made hay in that department in Russia and may have to do so again in a game where the battle for midfield space will be fierce.

It's easy to make a case for Harry Maguire, too, the Leicester man having also got off the mark for his country this summer, but we're on Trippier's turf here and that gives him the edge. One goal for either side may do it and it's in hope rather than expectation that our faith is placed in the impressive full-back to find it.

Should he not, perhaps Harry Kane's golden boots can do the trick but whatever the case, there should be real optimism for England here and they're quietly fancied to make a convincing start to the competition.

When last these sides met, England held a commanding 2-0 lead heading into the closing minutes. Almost two years on, they've moved forward while Spain, for all their talents, have to start again from scratch. That could be decisive and it's the settled side who warrant a bet at the prices.

Prediction: England 1-0 Spain

Best bet: England to win at 2/1

Alternative: Kieran Trippier to score first at 30/1


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Posted at 1925 BST on 07/09/18

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Most Read Football

Check out today's Paper Talk1

Paper Talk: Man Utd eye Pickford

Manchester United could target £60m Jordan Pickford as a replacement for David de Gea, according to The Sun.

We look ahead to the latest round of matches in the Nations League2

Monday's Nations League preview

The Nations League continues on Monday with the Netherlands aiming to join the final four. Tom Carnduff has three best bets.

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