In name it’s only a friendly but when any world champion rolls up to Wembley everybody watching can be sure it will be anything but. Spain, FIFA World Cup and UEFA European Championship winners, are rightly considered the best team in contemporary international football. Some even consider this Spanish side to be the best international team that has ever played the game. England, the inventors and guardians of the game, the kings of the woeful lament and constant riders of misfortunes waves, are a threat to any team on their own turf. The match is set to be an evenly contested one. That is not in doubt. The question is…..can England beat Spain?
England have one player that would definitely find his way into the Spanish national side. Wayne Rooney. It just so happens, unfortunately, that Wayne Rooney will not feature in this fixture after being sent off in England’s last competitive match against Montenegro and therefore finding himself suspended for England’s opening three matches of the 2012 UEFA European Championships. That being the case, England have decided to proceed without him until those three matches have passed in order to give other players an opportunity. Other England players whom might find their way into the Spanish starting line up include Rio Ferdinand and Ashley Cole. After that the claims appear wholly unreasonable. Ferdinand would probably make the first choice starting line up in place of Carlos Puyol, alongside his former Manchester Untied colleague Gerard Pique, and Ashley Cole would almost definitely find himself playing at left back. Others, like Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Gareth Barry, Joe Hart would stand no chance. When a country can afford to leave the likes of Pedro, Santi Cazorla, Jesus Navas, Cesc Fabregas, Fernando Torres, Fernando Llorente, Pepe Reina, Victor Valdes, Marcos Senna and Juan Mata on the bench, among several high profile and ultra talented others, then it is quite clear the balance of talent is demonstrably in Spain’s favour. In a first choice England and Spain combined eleven, Fernando Torres would start alongside Wayne Rooney, Juan Mata would start instead of Ashley Young, Victor Valdes would start in place of Joe Hart, Cesc Fabregas would be the first choice central midfielder, Santi Cazorla would play in place of Theo Walcott…..and so it continues. If we were to judge the outcome of football matches on such a basis then it becomes quickly apparent that Spain are likely to win. Spain have a better first eleven, superior alternatives and a higher quality of players not even considered worthy of a place in the squad. Spain are undeniably better.
Football matches, however, are not so logical. England at Wembley, with motivation and incentive, ought to be able to find enough about themselves as a team to pose a serious threat to Spain. Spain won in Manchester, in 2007, 1-0 against England, and before that beat England 1-0 in Madrid in 2004. More recently, in 2009, Spain defeated England in Sevilla 2-0. Three victories on the trot. The form guide also suggests Spain should be the winners.
Since winning the last couple of major international tournaments Spain have tended to treat friendlies in a less serious manner and have suffered some unsatisfactory results. This might turn out the same, despite all the evidence that suggests it won’t. Can England defeat Spain? On the face of it, they should barely stand a chance. Knowing how strange football can be, however, it’s safe to say this will be a tight encounter and anything could happen. England might even cause a surprise.