Wales welcome Spain to the Principality Stadium for an international friendly as both sides take the opportunity to fine-tune their squads before returning to UEFA Nations League action.
The Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Wales
Key Stat: Spain have not lost a match in 90 minutes since Euro 2016 - their only defeat in the 26 matches since was on penalties to Russia.
Expert Verdict: With Wales sweating on Gareth Bale's fitness, Spain are very much favourites for this one - particularly after the way they demolished Croatia in the UEFA Nations League in September. If they maintain that attacking form, they will take some beating under Luis Enrique.
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Gareth Bale is an injury doubt for the friendly against Spain, having limped off late on in Real Madrid’s loss to Alaves before sitting out of Wales training early in the week. They may choose not to risk their star player, with a view to Bale playing against Ireland instead. Paul Dummett has already withdrawn from the squad, with uncapped Joe Rodon called up in his place, while Joe Ledley and Tom Lockyer were not fit enough to make the squad in the first place.
Aaron Ramsey – Has rediscovered his best form for Arsenal this season and, in Gareth Bale’s absence, will be Wales’ key attacking player.
Tom Lawrence – Scored his third international goal last month against Republic of Ireland and has found the net four times for Derby this season.
Ben Davies – The Spurs’ wing-back is one of only two Welsh defenders in the current squad to be playing in the Premier League.
Wales have won two and lost two of their five games under Ryan Giggs, having started the UEFA Nations League with a big win at home to Republic of Ireland before an away defeat to Denmark. They started the last international break in fine form, as Tom Lawrence, Gareth Bale, Aaron Ramsey and Connor Roberts scored in a 4-1 thrashing of the Irish, but Christian Eriksen’s double proved the difference in a 2-0 loss in Denmark.
Defenders:Chris Gunter, James Chester, Chris Mepham, Ben Davies
Defensive Midfielders:Joe Allen, Ethan Ampadu
Attacking Midfielders:Tom Lawrence, Aaron Ramsey, David Brooks
Diego Costa is the headline absentee from the Spain squad, having been injured playing for Atletico Madrid against Club Brugge. Isco, Dani Carvajal, Sergi Roberto and Inigo Martinez are also out injured. Chelsea striker Alvaro Morata is recalled up front, and there are also recalls for Koke, Marc Bartra and Paco Alcacer. Wolves’ Jonny Castro could make his international debut, but there is no place for Jordi Alba. Luis Enrique has already confirmed he will experiment against Wales, with his primary focus being on the England match in the UEFA Nations League.
Alvaro Morata – Missed the World Cup despite scoring five goals in qualifying, but his resurgent form for Chelsea suggest last season’s struggles are behind him.
Rodrigo – Valencia striker scored in both games in the last international break, taking him to four in 11 appearances for Spain.
Saul Niguez – Another to score against both England and Croatia last time out, this is a big chance for him to cement his international place following Andres Iniesta and David Silva’s retirements.
Spain bounced back from their surprise World Cup exit – a tournament at which they won just one of their four matches before losing on penalties to Russia – with two big wins in the UEFA Nations League in September. They came from behind to beat England 2-1 at Wembley as Saul and Rodrigo scored – before a late let-off when Danny Welbeck’s last-minute equaliser was controversially ruled out – and then thrashed Croatia 6-0 in Elche. Saul and Rodrigo were among the scorers again, as were Marco Asensio, an own goal, Sergio Ramos and Isco.
Defenders:Nacho, Cesar Azpilicueta, Marc Bartra, Jonny Castro
Midfielders:Saul Niguez, Thiago Alcantara, Rodri Hernandez
Forwards:Marco Asensio, Alvaro Morata, Rodrigo
Wales and Spain have not faced each other since Wales recorded their only win in this fixture in a World Cup qualifier back in 1985. That was the fifth meeting between these two nations, with two draws and two Spain wins in the other two.
While Spain are set to experiment a little with their starting line-up, they were in blistering form in their last outing against Croatia and that is an ominous sign for a Welsh defence who are mostly drawn from Championship clubs.
Furthermore, with Gareth Bale an injury doubt and seemingly unlikely to be risked against a team likely to feature several of his Real Madrid team-mates, Wales are missing their best player.
Denmark proved too strong last time out for Wales, despite a strong performance against the Republic of Ireland before that, and Spain are on a different level too.
They have made a fine start under Luis Enrique – albeit having rode their luck in the finale against England at Wembley last month.
With Saul Niguez scoring as he steps up to replace David Silva and Andres Iniesta, and Rodrigo finding the net twice too, the ‘new Spain’ can overcome the loss of their former star players.
Wales’ have several promising young players coming through – the likes of Ethan Ampadu, Matt Smith and David Brooks, for example, but Spain have packed with their squad with La Liga and Premier League talent and experience.
The experimental line-up – if Luis Enrique does choose to really shuffle the pack – will still feature plenty of players with a wealth of experience of football at the highest level.
As a result, Spain are big favourites and should have enough about them to beat Wales, as Uruguay and Denmark already have done during Ryan Giggs’ reign.
Spain are big odds-on favourite to beat Wales, and that is fair enough looking at the two squads and Spain’s two performances under Luis Enrique so far. They can be backed at 4/11 to win with Bet365, Ladbrokes and Betway.
Wales’ two defeats under Ryan Giggs have both been to nil, and they also failed to score in a draw with Mexico too. Without Gareth Bale, a Spain win to nil at a best price of 11/10 (Ladbrokes and Betway) is generous.
You can also bet against both teams to score at 4/6 with Ladbrokes and Betfair, and back a Spain clean sheet at a best price of 10/11 with Betfair.
Rodrigo scored in both matches in the last international break, and he is a best price of 8/5 to score at any time with 10Bet. The returning Alvaro Morata is 6/4 with Betway, meanwhile.
Spain have made a strong start to life under Luis Enrique, and have more than enough attacking talent to beat Wales – particularly if Wales are without star man Gareth Bale.
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