How do England beat Spain in the Nations League?
Live on Sky Sports Main Event from 7pm on Monday
By Peter Smith
Last Updated: 15/10/18 7:50pm
From formations and tactics to team selection... we examine how England can upset Spain on Monday night.
Spain away. It doesn't get much tougher than this. Throw in England's poor record against elite sides and Spain's remarkable home record and it's clear that Gareth Southgate's side face a huge task on Monday night.
The aim will be to secure a surprise victory which will boost their hopes of reaching the Nations League final four next summer - but defeat would throw up the threat of relegation from the competition's top tier.
So how do the visitors secure their first win in Spain since 1987 and end their hosts' 15-year unbeaten streak in competitive home games? We take a look at the tactics…
England's three-man defence was a hit at the World Cup, combining defensive security with flying wing-backs and an aerial threat from set-pieces. But against Spain at Wembley, in the first of these Nations League group games, England's favoured formation was undone, just as it had been by Croatia in the World Cup semi-finals.
Spain, in their preferred 4-3-3, were able to pin England's wing-backs deep in their own half through their centre-forward and two wingers and, as a result, create time and space for the opposing full-backs to operate. Dani Carvajal and Marcos Alonso had 100 touches each in the 2-1 win.
Southgate reacted and made a tactical switch to a four-man defence against Croatia on Friday night, giving England more bodies in the centre of the pitch and was pleased with the results.
"We were getting outnumbered without the ball," he said. "We'd also had some problems building up against the pressure, so I was really pleased that we did both things very well.
"We were able to get more pressure higher up the pitch, we were able to get tighter to their midfielders. I thought our three midfield players did an excellent job."
Spain had nearly 60 per cent of possession in the first half at Wembley and, while none of England's three central midfielders had more than 50 touches, Spain's central trio surpassed that figure comfortably.
Southgate himself has conceded England do not have the profile of players to dominate possession of the ball against Spain and they are likely to be without it for long periods in Seville. But when they do win it back, they have to look after it.
That's where Harry Winks could prove useful. The fit-again Tottenham midfielder won praise for his recent performance against Barcelona in the Champions League, when he found the target with 52 of his 55 passes, and could add some much-needed control and composure for the visitors in the middle third, especially with Jordan Henderson suspended.
"We are going to have to do as well as we can to keep the ball against Spain," said Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher. "Winks is as good as anyone who can come in for Jordan Henderson in terms of technical ability."
Pace on the counter-attack
"We've got great pace in the team, great one-against-one ability, and that's what we've got to try to exploit when we play Spain." For Harry Kane, England's strength is obvious - and the quality of the visitors' counter-attacking on Monday will likely be decisive.
We've got great pace in the team, great one-against-one ability, and that's what we've got to try to exploit when we play Spain.
England's early opener against Spain at Wembley came from a rapid break downfield, ending with Marcus Rashford tucking in a superb cross from Luke Shaw, while Kyle Walker, Raheem Sterling and Jadon Sancho also offer fast outlets.
Sancho lit up the final stages of the drab draw with Croatia with his direct running and Southgate may be tempted to employ the Borussia Dortmund teenager's pace, trickery and creativity.
One thing England must get right on Monday is their finishing. Rashford missed two clear-cut chances against Croatia and England twice hit the woodwork as they wasted the opportunity of clinching a deserved win.
Such wastefulness in Seville is likely to be punished - and Southgate will have to hope his forwards can find the composure and clinical edge that has been sorely lacking of late.
Star striker Kane is without a goal for his country in his last six appearances, his joint-longest goalless run for England, while Sterling's return of two goals in 45 appearances tells its own story.
With David De Gea likely to be between the posts for the hosts, England's finishers will have to be at their best to hit the net.
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