England vs. Spain: Keys for Each Team in 2013 UEFA Women's Euro Showdown

Steven Cook@@stevencookinFeatured Columnist IVJuly 11, 2013

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 01:  Fara Williams of England battles with Amaia Olabarrieta of Spain during the Women's World Cup Qualifier match between England and Spain at the New Den on April 1, 2010 in London, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Julian Finney/Getty Images

The 2013 Women's Euro football tournament is full of world-class teams who will be fighting for one of the sport's most prestigious crowns, and Spain and England—two of the tournament's elite talents—will be facing off in the opening match for each team. 

Not just due to Spain and England, Group C is this tournament's "group of death" with France and Russia rounding out the four-team round robin. All eyes will be on the two teams who come out of this group.

With no gimmes, neither team can afford to lose this opener to have any realistic chance of advancing into the knockout stage.

Let's break down what each team must do to come out on top for this all-important affair in the 2013 Women's Euro.


England: Use Well-Rounded Attack to Replace Kelly Smith

Hope Powell's English squad will be coming in with championship expectations, but they have their hands full heading into their Euro opener.

As noted by Marcus Christenson of the Guardian, striker Kelly Smith is expected to be unfit to play against Spain due to a shin injury. She will likely be replaced by Eniola Aluko, the top striker for Chelsea Ladies.

Smith is England's top goal-scorer, so replacing her will be a task much too big for Aluko to take on by herself. The 26-year-old is more than worthy of the starting spot with 69 career caps and 14 international goals, but Smith is irreplaceable.

Instead, England will have to lean on their heap of veterans to keep the offense running and to give Aluko and the other forwards up top enough space to generate scoring opportunities.

Experienced players like Casey Stoney, Karen Carney and Steph Houghton must step up and help give this England team as much consistency and stability as possible in the wake of Smith's absence.

Things haven't gotten off to a peachy start for the English after being defeated 4-1 by Sweden in their Euro tuneup match. It's obvious that their defense needs help too, but it all starts with what they're able to do offensively and how many goals they can put on the scoreboard.


Spain: Stress Possession, Incorporate Youngsters

Spain's women's national team may not be as dominant as their men's squad, but there's one striking similarity between the two—both love to hold possession for as long as possible.

It's how this Spanish team wins, with swift passing and possessions that last long enough to wear the opponent down and open up holes. 

With a 4-5-1 formation, it's obvious that their chief goal is to overload you with players in the midfield and thus work you out of possession as much as possible.

The biggest key to dominating possession is experience, and that could be a facet that might let Spain down when they're trying to gain the advantage. Amanda Sampedro, Virginia Torrecilla and Alexia Putellas—three ladies who played together in the U-19 Euro last year—are all coming in as novices, and a huge factor will be how they're able to adjust to what Spain will inevitably try to do.