England vs Spain

England meet the World and European champions Spain on Saturday night (kick off 17:15), in what promises to be one of the more exciting international friendly matches. Both teams have qualified for the 2012 Poland-Ukraine European Championships, finishing top of their respective groups (England in Group G with 18 points from 8 games and Spain in Group I with the maximum 24 points from 8 games). Because both teams have qualified, expect the game to be an experimental one, with both sides testing players and formations in preparation for Euro 2012.

Spain are considered one of the best teams in the world at the moment. In the last two games against England (also friendlies), Spain have been victorious (2-0 at home in 2009, and 1-0 in England in 2007). Vicente del Bosque’s team have lost only once in their last 5 games, against Italy. England managed just three draws and 2 wins, btu I guess aat least that means they’re unbeaten?!

Whilst there will be plenty of world-class players on show at Wembley, Wayne Rooney won’t be playing. Manchester United’s striker was been left out of the squad because the red card he received against Montenegro will rule hi out of the Euro 2012 Group Stage matches, and Capello wants to find new options. Captain John Terry is also unlikely to play, with Capello keen to shield the player from further media attention after the police and Football Association investigations looking into alleged racist abuse.

Another important player that will miss this game is Liverpool’s Steven Gerrard, who is out with an ankle infection. Rio Ferdinand was overlooked, as was Liverpool’s Andy Carroll. Perhaps the biggest surprise is the omission of Manchester City defender Micah Richards who has been in good form for the Premier League leaders, but was snubbed in favour of Glen Johnson. It will be interesting to see whether new-boys Jack Rodwell and Daniel Sturridge make an impression.

Spain’s squad contains a whole load of World Cup winners, including four Premier League players. Chelsea striker Fernando Torres, despite his indifferent start to the season, and his team-mate Juan Mata are both in the squad, and are joined by Manchester City’s midfielder David Silva, and Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina. Barcelona have seven players in the squad including former Arsenal midfielder, Cesc Fabregas, who returns to London for this game. Primera Liga leaders Real Madrid have only four players on the team.

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England are far from favourites to win the game, which makes for some interesting odds. If you fancy the Three Lions to beat the World Champions you can get them at 4.65 (Paddy Power). A more sensible bet, especially given that England have drawn so many games recently, is that the teams will finish level – available at 3.4 (Ladbrokes).

It’s difficult to pick a goalscorer for England, especially when we can’t predict who will line-up in attack – Welbeck, Agbonlahor, Young and Bent are vying for just a couple of spots. We can be sure, however, that David Villa will be on the pitch from the start, and that he is the main Spanish goal threat. At 2.2 to score anytime (Bet Clic) we think he is good value.

Come on Eng-er-land!