Spain to reign in Seville
The better side for large parts against Croatia, England can consider themselves unlucky not to have taken more than just a solitary point away from Rijeka. Despite this, there’s a strong sense they head to Seville to take on Spain more in hope than expectation.
Enrique not hanging around
The moment Julen Lopetegui was sacked for confirming his intentions to take over at the Bernabeu, you knew Spain’s World Cup campaign was done for. And so it proved with their limp exit at the hands of hosts Russia.
But with a host of retirements to contend with and a squad all at sea, few expected new manager Luis Enrique to hit the ground running as quick as he has.
Yet, three wins from his first three, including a 6-0 demolition of World Cup finalists Croatia and the recent thrashing of Wales, leaves Spain looking revitalized and one of the most potent sides around currently.
England still some way off
The Three Lions returned heroes in the summer having become unlikely challengers to win the World Cup in Russia. Technically though, England won three games out of seven - Tunisia, Panama and Sweden, sides they’d be expected to defeat regardless of the competition.
Drawing with Columbia in normal time, losing twice to Belgium and of course the semi final defeat to Croatia raises the question as to whether England have it in them to mix it with the big boys at the moment. Add in to the equation a home loss against Spain and the draw with Croatia in this format, then the question must be raised if England currently are anything other than flat-track bullies?
As much promise as they’ve shown, there’s little to suggest that Southgate and England can raise their game against the real elite sides of international football, a scenario which is set to see England battling to save themselves from a Nations League relegation.
Spain to reign
Be it Marco Asensio, Paco Alcacer, Alvaro Morata, Rodrigo, Suso or Isco, Enrique will be able to call upon a number of attacking combinations on Monday, any one of which is expected to cause England a headache.
The visitors will offer a threat of their own through Kane, Sterling, Rashford and potentially Jadon Sancho but a double suspension blow in the shape of John Stones and Jordan Henderson, will force Southgate to disrupt both central defence and central midfield – not ideal when coming up against a side of Spain’s quality.
Akin to the opening match of Group A4, I expect England to be competitive and give a good account of themselves but eventually, for the quality to tell and the Spaniards to take over, just as they did at Wembley in Enrique’s first match.