On 14 and 17 November, Spain will resume UEFA Nations League action, taking on Switzerland and Germany, doing so after a shock 1-0 defeat to Ukraine. What can be expected from those two games, and what key trends emerge within Spain’s overall form and that of their opponents?
The story so far
With their shock 1-0 defeat to Ukraine, Spain suffered a third loss in six Nations League fixtures, leaving the standings as follows:
Conceding the first goal to Ukraine was a bitter blow, but Spain have proven their ability to negotiate higher-scoring matches. In fact, they still have a positive record from their five Nations League matches to produce three or more total goals scored, with Spain winning three and losing two. That is despite them conceding first in each of the previous four Nations games involving them to see both teams score.
Switzerland v Spain – 14 November
After being beaten by Spain in October, and following that result with a second-half capitulation away to Germany (in a 3-3 draw), Switzerland are currently winless in their last eight games played against nations that entered October in FIFA’s official top 20. For their part, Spain will travel to Switzerland having conceded first in every Nations League away game thus far, and taken just a single point from the last nine available on their travels in this competition. Yet, they have managed to reply with the next match goal on every occasion.
Despite being significant favourites against Switzerland, they face a myriad of dangers up front. Mario Gavranovi?, in particular, looks lethal in this competition. He entered the October round of Nations League fixtures having scored four goals in as many preceding appearances. With three of those coming in the opening 15 minutes of play, his ability to start quickly, and potentially trouble Spain’s backline is self-evident.
Spain have a dominant record against Switzerland over the past half-century.
Odds for Spain’s clash with Switzerland are already live in some places, and going into the final weekend of October, Spain were considered around twice as likely to beat Switzerland as they were to lose. With 16 wins from 21 prior meetings with Switzerland, there is certainly some backing for such a calculation, though a defeat to the Swiss in the 2010 World Cup stands out as a particularly painful moment for them.
Spain v Germany – 17 November
The latest matchday betting odds surrounding global sports often have clear favorites, but calling the outcome of Spain v Germany is much harder. While home advantage gives Spain an undeniable edge, Germany are widely expected to beat Ukraine on matchday five, and capitalise on any difficulties Spain may have in Switzerland.
Although Spain have a more topical psychological edge, after claiming a draw in the dying moments of the reverse encounter and beating them in the Euro 2008 final, Germany still boast the all-time edge against Spain. They have nine wins to Spain’s seven, with eight draws making up the middle ground, and adding to the sense of unpredictability. Germany are, however, winless in four competitive meetings, and last beat Spain in any competition way back in June 1988.
Picking any clear danger men amongst the Germans is a naturally difficult task, especially given their high standing in the tournament outrights prior to the start. Timo Werner scored against Spain in the opening group matchday, and also sparked the fightback against Switzerland, with his side trailing 2-0 after just 26 minutes prior to his goal.
3 September 2020 – Germany 1-1 Spain
Clear objective ahead
Though the loss to Ukraine was a bitter blow, Spain will still enter November’s round of Nations League fixtures top of the group and a point clear. Grasping the Nations League trophy from Portugal’s hands would be particularly satisfying, with the Iberian rivalry as strong as ever, despite the potential joint-bid to host the 2030 World Cup.
In practice, that means they merely need to win both matches in order to reach the Nations League finals, which will be held next autumn. Before resuming Nations League action, a friendly with the Netherlands will give an indication of their readiness for a battle that could still – mathematically speaking – end in anything between progression to the finals and an unthinkable relegation to League B.