England and Spain will share a pitch at Wembley on Saturday evening but the gulf between the two teams is absolutely massive.
Even if Spain decide to rest some of Barcelona's all-conquering players they are still blessed with deep reserves of talent, and boast a level of technical excellence that England cannot even remotely rival.
Vicente del Bosque's side are so far ahead of us because we lack the kind of technical player that La Liga produces so consistently. Perhaps in years to come England will be able to develop individuals who can compete with the likes of a Xavi or an Iniesta, a Silva or a Cazorla, but it seems unlikely. In all likelihood we are never going to be able to compete on a technical level with Spain.
This technical inferiority is deep-rooted in the culture and history of the English game. Perhaps we could make progress if we introduce European coaches at every level but until such a time there is a culture in the English game which dictates the way we play and the way we bring players up. Are we going to grab players at five years of age and educate them in a European style? It seems unlikely.
We should just accept that that is the situation we find ourselves in, rather than thinking we can get anywhere near Spain's level of technical excellence. I think Fabio Capello has acknowledged as much in the press and the truth is that we are miles away from the world and European champions.
However, we do have to remember that there are also many countries who have copied the English approach. What other teams respect in us is our mentality, our attitude, our work ethic. It might not be fashionable to extol those virtues but that does not mean they are not valuable. We have to retain the particular part of our character that made British football so appealing. We can't just become a carbon copy of a Spain or Germany.
We must harness the work ethic that won us the World Cup in 1966 and took us to the semi-finals of the 1990 World Cup and Euro '96. We did that through hard work; we didn't go out and outplay teams.
We never used to be able to measure possession and the number of completed passes - if we had done that during my time with the national side at the 1990 World Cup we would have been paranoid and thinking we were rubbish. It's about what we do when we have the ball - do we have a plan that can unsettle the world champions?
We most focus intently on the new generation coming through, like Germany are doing so expertly. Of course England are also miles away from Germany in terms of ability and technique - as the World Cup amply demonstrated - but we should be trying to emulate that attitude of fostering young talent.
I wish we were approaching the Spain game in a better state, and that the manager had a clearer vision about his objectives ahead of the Euro 2012 finals. As far as I am concerned we should have been focusing on using the opportunity to test out younger players and examining how they performed in testing conditions.
We should be trialling young players now to bed them in ahead of the Euros. We are not going to win the competition despite persistent and ridiculous claims that England have the right to get to the semi-finals. Why do we have the right? We should go to Poland and Ukraine and get experience for the younger players while relinquishing this attitude of entitlement that surrounds the national side.
The likes of John Terry, Frank Lampard and Rio Ferdinand have had their time and they are not good enough now. They demonstrated at the World Cup they are not up to the task required and they should be elbowed aside to bring in new blood.
Why are we persisting with players that have consistently failed? Why is Lampard going to be leading the side out as captain? There is an argument that says he is on the way out for Chelsea and he has been dropped recently by Capello for England, yet he has the armband.
We know all about this crop of players. They were given the tag of being the Golden Generation and they didn't succeed. Why are will still talking about them being there?
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