England

England manager Capello and regular skipper Terry lead the team out for a training session at Wembley Stadium, London. Picture - Reuters.

The gulf in class between the teams placed first and seventh, in International football, will be all too apparent when world champions Spain travel to Wembley to take on England in a friendly on Saturday.

The build up to this highly anticipated encounter was clouded with a meaningless, overblown issue between the English FA and Fifa on poppies. It also served to distract attention from English captain John Terry allegedly being a racist.

On the football front, however, it is undisputedly a mismatch. Many expect England to suffer a heavy defeat and subsequently realize their realistic rank in world football in much the same manner as they did when Hungary visited Wembley to thrash England 6-3 in 1953. It led to serious introspection from the hosts.

In the past decade, England have won only once against Spain, in 2001 when the Sven Goran Eriksson began his era with a 3-0 win at Villa Park. In the three matches since, the Three Lions haven't found the net against Spain, while their latest meeting back in February 2009 resulted in a 2-0 loss.

It is, therefore, a highly anticipated encounter despite being just a friendly. Fabio Capello has confirmed that Frank Lampard will lead his England side out, with regular captain Terry starting on the bench in what Capello claims is a purely football related decision.

It will be interesting to see how England cope with Spain's famous passing game. Keeping Xavi quiet will be instrumental for their chances although the same goes for Andres Iniesta and David Silva, who are expected to start in midfield. Scott Parker will have his work cut out in trying to keep them in check while Lampard will have to resist his attacking instincts as more is expected of him in defence. England will also be without Wayne Rooney, who will not be tested in the friendlies after being suspended for at least two matches in the Euro 2012 group stages.

Capello confirmed Manchester United youngster Phil Jones, a natural centre-back, will start in midfield, after advise from United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, and the Italian feels the occasion is perfect rather than daunting for the youngster to feature.

We spoke in Manchester and Sir Alex said he could play there, said the England manager. We don't have a lot of young players who can play in central midfield, so I want to try him there. This occasion is perfect for that. He has a lot of qualities and his potential is the top.

Capello will be hoping for a draw, which would be quite a boost given that he is missing his son's wedding to take his place on the touchline.

He is likely to be disappointed.

Prediction

England 0-2 Spain - The Spaniards will gobble possession and pressurize England high up when without the ball. Keeping possession won't come naturally to the Premier League stars in England, and it plays right into their visitors' strength.