England and Spain will lock horns under the Wembley arch on Tuesday in Gareth Southgate’s final game as interim boss.
While international friendlies never provoke great interest and excitement, this particular encounter proves an intriguing clash. After all, both England and Spain endured nightmarish 2014 World Cup and Euro 2016 campaigns.
The Three Lions and La Roja are both in something of a transitional period, having shed some of their finest players over recent years. After all, it’s a fixture that no longer wields Steven Gerrard, Xavi, Paul Scholes, David Villa and so on.
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Nevertheless, you can still put together a rather menacing starting XI from the respective squads.
Besides, given the talent pools from which the national teams can pick, such a Frankenstein squad would have most teams sweating.
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GK – David de Gea
Undoubtedly one of the best goalkeepers in world football.
While Joe Hart certainly runs De Gea close, the Englishman doesn’t harbor the same consistency and shot stopping as his ex-Manchester Derby rival. After all, the Spaniard has collected the Manchester United Player of the Year award for the past three seasons.
He can’t be beaten on his day and for that reason, he has to be picked.
RB – Kyle Walker
The right-back position has always been an area of weakness for Spain. La Roja may have Hector Bellerin rising through their ranks; he is exempt from this team given his recent international snub.
Nevertheless, Walker proves a full-back who has improved greatly over past seasons and is one of England’s most consistent performers. He adds great pace, strength and crossing down the flank, despite being occasionally guilty of poor defending.
CB – John Stones
The Manchester City man, simply put, plays as if he’s Spanish.
His incredible calmness on the ball and ability to play out from the back makes him both a unique and desired player. While not the biggest physically presence, his defensive nous and positioning is of great benefit.
It’s not hard to see the 22-year-old becoming one of the world’s best in years to come.
CB – Nacho
Perhaps exemplification of how comparatively weak Spain’s defence has become.
Without the inclusion of Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique in the squad, Real Madrid’s Spanish stalwart proves their go-to man. The 26-year-old can play anywhere across the back four and is a strong aerial presence.
England’s Chris Smalling and Gary Cahill run him surprisingly close, but lag behind on recent form.
LB – Cesar Azpilicueta
Mr Consistent himself. The 27-year-old is one of the best defensive full-backs in world football and has been a regular in the Chelsea and Spain sides for over two years now.
Danny Rose has enjoyed some impressive showings recently, but is often undermined by defensive gaffes. Azpilicueta may not offer exciting and swashbuckling runs forward, yet provides unrivaled protection down the channels.
CM – Sergio Busquets
The Barcelona man is the perfect defensive midfielder in any side and executes the dirty work necessary to allow others to shine.
His style of play would prove the perfect foil for a richly talented midfield outfit. England haven’t had a player of such class in their midfield since Paul Scholes, so this is an easy decision.
CM – Eric Dier
Another player needed to allow freedom for the side’s offensive assets. The thought of a Dier-Busquets combination would breed fear in most sides and would prove an emphatic barrier in front of the back four.
The 22-year-old has taken off since his move to Tottenham and was arguably their finest player in last season’s title charge. Moreover, his ability to play as a full-back, centre-back and in midfield makes him highly desired.
He may not be Busquets standard, but he trumps Koke and co. nonetheless.
RM – David Silva
One of the Premier League’s most talented players and despite having stagnated in recent years, a world-class midfielder.
With a brilliant touch, eye for a spectacular pass and silky dribbling, Silva ticks all the boxes. Goal scoring is an area where he could improve, but he satisfies enough criteria elsewhere for this to be overlooked.
LM – Juan Mata
You either love him or hate him, but England’s questionable assets out wide necessitates his inclusion.
Mata knows where the back of the net is with over 40 Premier League goals to his name and could easily rotate with Silva on the wing. He simplify typifies Spanish footballing class to a degree to which Adam Lallana can’t really compare.
Furthermore, he possesses a sweet free-kick and cross, with assist statistics to back it with.
CAM – Wayne Rooney
A controversial pick, yet the statistics don’t lie. Rooney has scored more goals than anyone in the current England and Spain squads with an unprecedented tally of 53.
In addition, he is on the brink of becoming Manchester United’s all time top scorer as well as captaining the Red Devils. He may have gone off the boil in recent months, but his record is highly enviable and that can’t be denied.
Players such as Thiago Alcantara and Isco haven’t had impressive enough seasons to warrant being favoured over Rooney.
ST – Harry Kane
Had Diego Costa not been forced to withdraw from the Spain squad with injury, the Chelsea man would have been favoured. Kane has to be next in line though given his formidable goal scoring record.
Injuries may have hampered his recent attempts, but last season saw him amass 25 goals to race to the Premier League Golden Boot in impressive fashion.
Alvaro Morata lacks the consistency and natural finishing ability to rival his English counterpart, despite a solid start to his Real Madrid return. Spain still need a world-class striker to get back to their best.
Who would make YOUR England/Spain combined XI? Leave them in the comment section below!