England face Spain in Seville on Monday night looking to build on their Nations League draw in Croatia.
Gareth Southgate’s side have picked up just one point from their opening two fixtures in the new tournament, while Spain started with victories over both Croatia and the Three Lions.
Here’s a look at the talking points ahead of the clash at the Estadio Benito Villamarin.
Group B or not Group B, that is the question
England are without a win from their two Nations League matches to date, Friday’s stalemate in Croatia preceded by a 2-1 defeat at home to Spain last month.
With groups settled on a head-to-head basis if teams finish on equal points and Spain the favourites to progress, even a draw in Seville could be the difference between England remaining amongst the Group A elite for the 2020/21 edition.
While the Nations League has been derided by some, most notably Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp, Southgate will be keen not to become the first England boss to suffer the ignominy of relegation.
Facing Spain in Seville was always going to be a challenge for England, but it is a test made more difficult by the fact both John Stones and Jordan Henderson are suspended.
The pair were shown yellow cards in the draw in Rijeka to add to their bookings in the opening Group A4 loss to Spain at Wembley and, as a result, will miss the return fixture.
With no further call-ups expected, it remains to be seen how Southgate fills the considerable void left by two of his most trusted players.
Ja-done enough to start?
Borussia Dortmund forward Jadon Sancho became the first man to play for England born this side of the millennium when he came off the bench against Croatia.
Although it was just a short, 12-minute cameo for the 18-year-old, he looked lively and was hungry for the ball in an attempt to inspire a late win for Three Lions.
With Marcus Rashford misfiring and Raheem Sterling without an England goal in three years, Southgate could be tempted to give Sancho a chance from the start against Spain.
Luis Enrique was appointed as Spain manager following a disappointing World Cup which began with previous boss Julen Lopetegui sacked on the eve of the competition.
With a new generation of players now having to be blended with the experienced names, former Barcelona boss Enrique has started well.
A 2-1 win at Wembley in the reverse Nations League fixture last month got the ball rolling before Spain thumped Croatia 6-0 three days later – Wales were the next victims, beaten 4-1 in a friendly last week.
The pain for Kane can end with goals in Spain
England captain Harry Kane may have won the golden boot as the World Cup’s top goalscorer in the summer but the 25-year-old has not scored in his last six internationals.
If he does not score in Monday’s game against Spain in the same competition it will be the longest barren run of his senior England career.
With plenty of suggestion he needs a rest, Kane insists he is ready and raring to go in Seville as he eyes a first international goal since the last-16 victory over Colombia on July 3.
Argentina goalkeeper Sergio Romero believes his side need to win against Brazil on Tuesday to prove their importance without Lionel Messi.
The Barcelona star, who captained Argentina at the World Cup this summer in Russia, has taken an indefinite break from the Albiceleste.
Although Lionel Scaloni’s have won two out of their three friendly matches since the last-16 exit at the World Cup they face the stiff test of Brazil in Jeddah on Tuesday.
Speaking ahead of the game, Romero said: “Firstly for our confidence. For Argentina to know we are here, but we know we are bigger with Messi.
“We know what we have to find a solution in the game. I think it’s a beautiful game. A very nice game to play against Brazil with our team that is very young and we will do the best to represent our country.”
History was made as Netherlands secured their first win over Germany in over 16 years.
Ronald Koeman’s side romped to a 3-0 victory over their opponents in the Nations League on Saturday, piling pressure on boss Joachim Low.
Virgil van Dijk’s first-half header gave the Dutch the lead before Memphis Depay and Georginio Wijnaldum bagged late goals to register a convincing win in Amsterdam.
Here, we analyse the individual display of Barcelona target Frenkie de Jong.
Passes – 51
Key Passes – 1
Pass Accuracy – 94.1%
Touches – 60
Dribbles – 1
Dispossessed – 0
Tackles – 2
Shots – 0
In a game that also featured Toni Kroos, it was De Jong who stood out as the star in midfield. He effortlessly dictated play while his team was in possession and one of his runs forward with the ball earned a free-kick from which Netherlands nearly profited.
Another superb run through the middle later in the first period saw him lay the ball off only for Steven Bergwijn to fire wide from 25 yards. Up against Kroos, Joshua Kimmich and Emre Can, De Jong protected the ball superbly and closed down his counterparts well too, ensuring they didn’t have it all their own way.
The Ajax youngster did a great job of shielding the defence as well, positioning himself correctly and covering spaces. He never had a sight at goal though and was replaced in the 76th minute as Koeman switched to a more counter-attacking approach with Germany committing numbers forward.
Passing – It’s no secret that De Jong’s passing is among his foremost attributes and this display only furthered his reputation as an orchestrator in midfield. He dictated the tempo for Netherlands and directed their attacks. His ability to show composure and pick out a pass under pressure is truly special. He did that well against a formidable German midfield.
Driving runs – An anchorman and deep-lying playmaker he may be but De Jong is also mobile. He boasts a good turn of pace but his deceptive speed is not what primarily facilitates his driving runs forward. His ability to spot space to surge through the heart of the opposition is complimented by the way he protects the ball while navigating past players.
Piercing passes – Given his vast array of passes, perhaps De Jong could’ve been a bit more adventurous with his passes forward. He didn’t play safe sideways passes but with the pace of Depay, Steven Bergwijn and Ryan Babel at his disposal, he failed to tap into that with balls in behind the defence, either along the deck or over the top.
Goal threat – Scoring goals is understandably low on his list of priorities and rightly so. However, the odd effort from range would only give the opposition another thing to think about. He had no attempts in this match and also refrained from venturing into the penalty area. Given his withdrawn role, he could get some joy from ghosting into the box on the rare occasion.
He seems destined to be a mainstay in this Dutch side for years to come and his distribution makes it easy to see why Barcelona are keeping a close eye on him. He shone against tough opposition and it was impossible to get the ball off him. He was never dispossessed, fending off challenges admirably.
All statistics are compiled using whoscored.com