Continuity vs change as England face Spain at Wembley

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London, Sep 7 (IANS) England entertain Spain at the Wembley Stadium in what promises to be a fascinating UEFA Nations League game on Saturday night as the hosts look to build on the momentum of their successful 2018 FIFA World Cup campaign while the visitors begin life under new coach Luis Enrique.

Spain’s World Cup disappointment led to veterans, such as Gerard Pique and David Silva retiring from international football, while the new coach has left mainstays such as left back Jordi Alba and midfielder Koke out of his first squad, reports Xinhua news agency.

Consequently with striker Diego Costa also absent as he awaits the birth of his child, it will be a relatively changed Spain that kicks off in London.

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It will be interesting to see if Enrique decides to continue with David de Gea in goal after his disappointing performances in Russia, or whether he gives a chance to Kepa Arrizabalaga, who joined Chelsea from Athletic Club Bilbao over the summer.

The Spaniards were criticised for their over reliance on a purely passing game in Russia which saw them maintain possession for long periods but create few chances and Enrique has hinted he will make some changes to this tactic, although any changes are likely to be minor.

England coach Gareth Southgate became a national hero after leading his players to the last 4 in Russia and he is looking to build on that work.

The last time England reached the semi-final of the World Cup (in 1990) the coach who led them, Sir Bobby Robson, stepped down from his post meaning any progress was lost, but Southgate looks determined to continue his rebuilding.

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Young defender Joe Gomez, who missed the World Cup through injury, has been included, as has left back Luke Shaw, but the majority of the squad is unchanged, apart from Raheem Sterling who misses out with a back problem.

Harry Kane will continue to lead the England attack in what promises to be an interesting contrast in styles. And with England midfielder Eric Dier warning that Spain are a much better side than the World Cup suggests, it should be a close and entertaining match.

–IANS

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