Having managed the miraculous at the World Cup, by coming home as the first England boss to be almost universally praised after a major tournament exit in a couple of generations, Gareth Southgate begins ‘Operation Euro 2020’ on Saturday.
A Spain side who have endured more drama than the Christmas episode of EastEnders provide the opposition at Wembley Stadium. Former Barcelona boss Luis Enrique must attempt to pick up the pieces of a shattering World Cup campaign that saw Julen Lopetegui sacked on the eve of the tournament and Fernando Hierro depart after their penalty defeat to Russia in the round of 16.
Southgate for his part will attempt to move his outfit from a different sort of disappointment, after they let a World Cup final spot slip from their grasp.
The last three meetings have seen a draw and a win for each country, so you can see why we are finding it harder than buttoning Southgate’s waistcoat to separate them. As seen with Germany and France on Thursday, the big sides seem happy to settle for a stalemate outside of tournament football and we’re tipping the same at Wembley at 15/8.
Since becoming set-piece masters of the entire planet at the World Cup, goal scoring doesn’t seem to be a problem when it comes to this fledgling England crop.
Only Belgium managed to keep them scoreless at the competition and both those matches were utterly meaningless.
Spain also know exactly where the net is, scoring seven in their last four run-outs. Although Enrique will be keen to fix the fact they’ve also conceded six in that many games. Those stats have us fancying a crack at the Evens punt of both teams to hit the onion sack at Evens.
He might be more infamous for a hand gesture that NASA scientists are struggling to explain, but Dele Alli looks to have finally found his feet in the goal scoring stakes at international level.
Sealing the World Cup quarter-final with Sweden with a delightful header will have done wonders for his confidence and don’t be surprised to see him pop up at 4/1 for anytime goal on Saturday.
Alli may not exact be you Da’s favourite player, but he’s already popped up with a Premier League goal this season and is looking sharp heading into this one.
Just watch your shoulder Dele, Sergio Ramos is about!
- Bet summary: A Same Game Multi on these three best bets pays out at approximately 17/1 with Paddy Power
* All odds correct at tome of posting.