Preview: Spain vs. Northern Ireland – prediction, team news, lineups

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Preview: Spain vs. Northern Ireland – prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Saturday’s friendly clash between Spain and Northern Ireland, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Spain will round off their preparations for this summer’s European Championship with a friendly against Northern Ireland at Estadi Mallorca Son Moix on Saturday night.

La Roja will enter the contest off the back of a 5-0 success over Andorra on Thursday, while Northern Ireland have not been in action since a 1-0 victory over Scotland back in March.

Match preview

© Reuters

After losing to Colombia and drawing with Brazil in their two friendlies back in March, Spain returned to winning ways in style on Thursday evening, putting five unanswered goals past Andorra, with Mikel Oyarzabal netting a hat-trick during a strong performance from the hosts.

Spain will now tackle Northern Ireland in their final warm-up fixture for Euro 2024, with their campaign getting underway against Croatia on June 15, while they will also face Italy and Albania in a strong Group B.

La Roja are not particularly being mentioned as possible winners of this summer’s competition, but that should help them, as the national side bid to improve on their performance at the 2022 World Cup, when they were eliminated in the last-16 stage of the competition.

Spain did reach the semi-finals of Euro 2020, though, losing on penalties to Italy, while they are three-time winners of the European Championship, including in 2008 and 2012 during a period of domination.

Luis de la Fuente‘s side were impressive in their qualification group, picking up 21 points from an available 24 to top the section, and they are the favourites to finish at the head of Group B this summer.

Northern Ireland's Conor Bradley celebrates scoring their first goal with teammates on March 26, 2024© Reuters

Northern Ireland, though, will not play at Euro 2024, having finished fifth in their qualification section, only picking up nine points from their 10 matches during a tough campaign.

The Green and Whites famously made the finals of Euro 2016 and advanced to the round of 16, but they will not be back in competitive action until September in the UEFA Nations League.

Michael O’Neill‘s side will actually bring a three-game unbeaten run into this friendly, ending their Euro 2024 qualification campaign with a 2-0 success over Denmark, before drawing 1-1 with Romania and beating Scotland 1-0 in their two non-competitive games back in March.

Northern Ireland have only won two of their previous 18 matches against Spain, and they lost 1-0 when the two nations last locked horns in November 2007.

The Green and Whites did beat La Roja 3-2 in September 2006, though, and they will be eyeing what would be another famous victory over Spain in Saturday’s international friendly.

Spain friendly form:

Spain form (all competitions):

Northern Ireland friendly form:

Northern Ireland form (all competitions):

Team News

Spain's Rodri scores their first goal from the penalty spot on March 26, 2024© Reuters

Ayoze Perez marked his Spain debut with a goal against Andorra, but the Real Betis attacker is expected to be one of a number of players to drop out for this contest.

Head coach De la Fuente will make wholesale changes, with Unai Simon set to return in goal, while Robin Le Normand and Dani Carvajal should both feature at the back.

Rodri and Fabian Ruiz are also likely to come into the midfield, while there could be starts for Lamine Yamal and Oyarzabal alongside leading goalscorer Alvaro Morata in the final third of the field.

Fermin Lopez will be hoping to earn a second cap, having also debuted against Andorra, while Nico Williams and Mikel Merino are also expected to be involved, potentially off the bench.

As for Northern Ireland, Jonny Evans is set to captain the side, with the 36-year-old, who is in talks with Manchester United over a new contract, still going strong.

Josh Magennis is a free agent this summer, but he remains the leading goalscorer in the Northern Ireland squad with 11, and the forward should also be in the XI.

Head coach O’Neill will give a number of players opportunities to make their mark on Saturday, with Pierce Charles, Aaron Donnelly and Caolan Boyd-Munce all hoping to earn first caps for their country.

Spain possible starting lineup:
Simon; Carvajal, Le Normand, Cubarsi, Grimaldo; Pedri, Rodri, Ruiz; Yamal, Morata, Oyarzabal

Northern Ireland possible starting lineup:
Peacock-Farrell; Hume, Ballard, J Evans, Toal, Spencer; Bradley, C Evans, Charles, Price; Magennis

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We say: Spain 3-1 Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland are certainly capable of making this a tricky match for Spain, which is what La Roja will want in their final game before Euro 2024. The hosts will be able to call upon greater quality all across the pitch, though, and we are expecting them to have too much for their opponents on Saturday.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.

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