It’s very early days but Spain have laid down a benchmark for the next European Championships with their recent performances in the UEFA Nations League.
Under the guidance of new coach Luis Enrique, the new-look side has rebounded from a terrible World Cup in Russia to beat England and Croatia in back-to-back League A games.
Last week they became the first side to beat England in a competitive game at Wembley since November 2007, and they followed that up by destroying World Cup runners-up Croatia 6-0.
France emerged victorious at the World Cup and are the favourites for the next Euros but it is Spain who may represent the best value right now.
During the next international break, which takes place next month, Spain will play host to England in what could be a nice option when it comes to your weekend accumulator tips.
If you’re playing the long game then don’t put too much stock in Spain’s last 16 defeat to the host nation at the World Cup and be sure to shop around – they can be backed at 7/1 to win the next European Championships at the moment.
Most nations would struggle if they lost the likes of Andres Iniesta and David Silva to retirement but Spain have countless options to call upon, with 22-year-old Marco Asensio one of those revelling with more responsibility.
The Real Madrid man scored one goal and had a hand in four others, while Atletico Madrid midfielder Saul Niguez, Valencia striker Rodrigo, Sergio Ramos, Isco and an own goal also contributed to the resounding victory.
There are plenty of fresh faces in the squad as the Spanish look to rebound from the turmoil that clouded their World Cup campaign when coach Julen Lopetegui was dismissed on the eve of the tournament having agreed to manage Real Madrid.
Chelsea left back Marcos Alonso has finally made the cut at the age of 27, while impressive Valencia defender Jose Luis Gaya is also involved.
Higher up the pitch, Rodri of Atletico Madrid, AC Milan’s Suso, and Real Madrid’s Dani Ceballos also form part of the new generation.
The UEFA Nations League was met with some scepticism was its format was announced but so far, we have seen some very exciting games and there are a number of teams to look out for as well as Spain.
Italy failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup so will be looking to restore some pride, but they haven’t gotten off to the best of starts with just a draw and a defeat to show from their games against Poland and Portugal.
Iceland, meanwhile, have been the fairy tale side of the last few years but they look to be well out of their depth in League A having gone down 6-0 and 3-0 to Switzerland and Belgium respectively.
Further down the leagues, Denmark’s off field issues have been well documented with their players and football association locked in a dispute over image rights.
However, they put Wales to the sword just days after Ryan Giggs’ side had given the Republic of Ireland a 4-1 hiding in Cardiff.
In League C, Finland have quietly made it six points from their opening two Group 2 fixtures with 1-0 wins over Hungary and Estonia, while neighbours Serbia and Montenegro are tied on four points at the top of Group 4.
It is Spain, however, who have made people sit up and take note over the past week, and it may be time to jump on the bandwagon before the odds go too low.