Luis Enrique will hope to keep the positive start going as Spain travel to Cardiff to take on Wales at the Millennium Stadium on Thursday.
Ryan Giggs has had an indifferent start to his career as the manager of Wales. The Manchester United legend is still trying to get to grips with international management, which is a different beast compared to the club level. Despite his record of 2 wins, a draw and 2 losses in 5 games in charge to date, the footballing philosophy is starting to come together for Wales.
As far as Spain are concerned, Luis Enrique has taken charge of the National Team and is slowly starting to ring in the changes to instil his own stamp on the footballing philosophy of La Furia. The first step has been to stabilise the results, with Spain earning victories over England and Croatia, two teams that progressed beyond Spain in the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Wales seem to be focused on incorporating the next generation into the senior setup, perhaps building for the future major events. Spain are also trying to push through the youth into the starting eleven, with the likes of Marco Asensio, Jose Gaya and Dani Ceballos being integrated as potential regulars within the setup.
It will be interesting to see how Wales and Spain will be able to match up on Thursday at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. We take a closer look at the two teams.
Team News & Tactics
Ryan Giggs is sweating over the fitness of star forward Gareth Bale. The manager is likely to retain the 4-2-3-1 formation, which seems to be the formation Giggs wants to set the Welsh team up in. Wayne Hennessey should start in goal for Wales, with Ashley Williams and James Chester likely to be the centre-back pairing.
Chris Gunter and Ben Davies should line up on either side of the central defence. The midfield pivot pairing of Joe Allen and Ethan Ampadu should remain intact as well. Aaron Ramsey is starting to get into his groove in the number 10 role for both club and country and should keep his place in the said role.
Tom Lawrence is also becoming a key player under Ryan Giggs and will mostly retain his place on the left, despite Harry Wilson’s recent cup heroics for Derby County. The right side though, has many takers. Tyler Roberts and David Brooks are both contesting for the spot.
David Brooks should get the nod while Gareth Bale is unlikely to be risked before the UEFA Nations League tie, which means we should see Sam Vokes deputise in stead of the Real Madrid forward in the friendly against Spain.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Hennessey; Gunter, Williams, Chester, Davies; Allen, Ampadu; Brooks, Ramsey, Lawrence; Vokes
A couple of players have earned their first senior call-up. Pau Lopez is one of the two. But, the goalkeeper will have to be content with a call-up, with Kepa Arrizabalaga likely to get the nod for the friendly against Wales. Jonny though, should earn his first senior cap, owing to his form for Premier League Wolves.
Raul Albiol and Sergio Ramos should be the preferred centre-back pairing. Jose Gaya could be afforded another outing on the left, with Marcos Alonso likely to come in for the UEFA Nations League match against England.
Thiago Alcantara and Saul Niguez should line up alongside Sergio Busquets in the midfield. As far as attack is concerned, we could see Paco Alcacer being handed a start, thanks to his scintillating form in front of goal for Borussia Dortmund.
Marco Asensio is slowly establishing himself as a regular and should start on the right for Spain. The remaining spot could be a toss-up between Suso and Iago Aspas, with the latter likely to be given the nod.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Kepa; Azpilicueta, Albiol, Ramos, Jonny; Thiago, Busquets, Saul; Asensio, Alcacer, Aspas
1. The two nations have met each other five times previously, with Spain holding a minor edge, with 2 wins over 1 for Wales (2 draws).
2. Wales have failed to score thrice in the five games Ryan Giggs have been in charge of the National Team.
3. Wales also have an airtight defence, conceding just 4 goals in the designated five games.
4. Spain have scored more in the 2 games under Luis Enrique (9) than they managed during the entirety of the 2018 FIFA World Cup (7).
5. Sergio Busquets will go level with Cesc Fabregas and Fernando Torres as joint 8th on the list of the most capped players with an appearance against Wales.
Player to Watch
While all eyes will be on Ethan Ampadu and his ability to go up against the experienced Spanish midfield, Paco Alcacer will be looking to make the most of his opportunity that is likely to be handed to him against Wales, and deservedly so. Alcacer was a forlorn figure at Barcelona.
But, his start at Dortmund has shown that Alcacer still retains the potential that led Barcelona to sign him up in the first place. Now, presented with an excellent opportunity to stake his claim to be the first-choice striker for Spain, thanks to the indifferent form of Alvaro Morata, Alcacer will be looking to make a statement against Wales.
Wales 1-4 Spain
While Luis Enrique’s first match in charge yielded a narrow 2-1 win over England, the 6-0 demolition of Croatia is a statement result. The players look comfortable under Enrique’s tutelage. On the other hand, Wales will be missing Gareth Bale’s services, which will have a bearing on our prediction for the match.
We expect Spain to exert dominion on the pitch at the Millennium Stadium and come away with a comfortable win over Wales on Thursday.