England Looking to Avenge their Iceland Euro 2016 Defeat
Last updated: September 4, 2020 by Leon Marshal
|Last Meeting:||England 1 – 2 Iceland|
|Competition:||UEFA Nations League|
The Three Lions travel to Iceland in the second season of the UEFA Nations League. Iceland’s team selection has received a huge blow with five of their vital starting eleven not expected to feature against a talented English side that will be looking to gain revenge for their shock Euro 2016 knockout.
Iceland stunned The Three Lions in Euro 2016, the most important game between the two sides so far. They are a team that has been built on a culture of togetherness and good organisation with a solid defensive unit that can disappoint the big teams. A tough team to break down, they have kept four clean sheets their last five and are unbeaten in that five, winning four and drawing one.
The Nordic team struggled in the inaugural competition; humbled by Switzerland and Belgium, conceding 13 goals and only managing to score just once in four straight defeats. They have since qualified for the Euro 2020; winning four of the last five home games. Erik Hamren is well known for his endeavours with the Swedish national team, leading them to two European Championships.
The absence of five their top guns; Burnley’s Johann Berg Gudmundsson, Copenhagen’s Ragnar Sigurdsson, Everton’s Gylifi Sigurdsson, and Augsburg’s Alfred Finnabogasson, as well as former Cardiff star Aron Gunnarsson, could hurt their squad that doesn’t enjoy the comfort of depth—hardly surprising in a country with just 171,033 men to choose from.
Sigurdsson chose to stay with his club preparing for the season’s opener against Tottenham on 13th September; he has been with Everton since 2017, scoring 19 goals in 100 league appearances. His Premier League experience will be missed. He was with Tottenham Hotspur from 2012-2014, scoring eight goals in 58 league appearances before joining Swansea City from 2014-2017 that saw him net 26 goals during that spell.
Gudmundsson’s decision not to play, even though their Premier League game against Man City has been postponed and won’t feature till 19th September, has annoyed many in his home country with supporters questioning both Sigurdsson and Gudmundsson’s loyalty.
Although missing, Gunnarsson has a viable reason for not playing after being blocked to travel from his Qatar club Al Arabi citing the new FIFA rules. This will open up places for players such as Millwall’s attacker Jon Dadi Bodvarsson, who has scored just six goals and two assists in 33 appearances, to lead the line.
England reached the semi-final of the inaugural UEFA Nations League, where they lost to the Netherlands in the semi-finals, after getting the best of Spain and Croatia along the way. Gareth Southgate will most likely revert to his back three system that worked well in the 2018 World Cup where they finished fourth. He did, however, switch to a conventional back four in the European qualification. Using this system, they won seven of the eight qualifiers.
The Three Lions have led at half time and full time in the last three encounters, scoring 17 goals in the last three games. The competition for places in the squad has yielded spectacular output by the players managing to score four goals in five of the last six outings. Harry Kane is their standout player with 32 goals in 46 appearances for the National side with 12 goals coming in 10 outings in 2019.
Jack Grealish received his first-ever English call-up and could make his debut in the doubleheader against Iceland and Denmark. The 24-year old Aston Villa captain will be deputising for Harry Winks (personal reasons) and Marcus Rashford (ankle injury) who withdrew. Grealish’s statistics of nine goals and seven assists is a good return, especially as he is playing in one of the lowest-scoring teams in the division. Defenders know his ability; he is one of the most fouled players in all of Europe’s top five divisions.
Kyle Walker returns to the squad for the first time in 15 months featuring last against Switzerland back in June 2019. The most expensive defender, Harry Maguire, has been given an extended break to recover from his ordeal in Mykonos. The Manchester United captain is appealing a guilty charge for assaulting a Police officer, resisting arrest, and attempted bribery.
A Manchester United player expected to feature is Mason Greenwood. In his breakthrough season, Greenwood scored 18 goals in 50 appearances with five goals in the last seven games showing outstanding clinical finishing ability with both feet. Alongside 20-year old Phil Foden, who is showing immense promise at Manchester City, these two players could be vital for England for the next decade.
Iceland will be without five of its key players in the line-up including Premier League duo Sigurdson and Gudmunson.
Iceland upset England 2 – 1 to knock them out of the Euro 2016.
Rashford and Winks withdrew from the squad with Maguire’s immediate England career unclear.
Jack Grealish’s inclusion alongside Mason Greenwood and Phil Foden is the reward for good club performances.
|Iceland (3-4-2-1):||Halldorsson, Palsson, Ingason, Sigurdsson, Skulason, Bjarnasson, Anderson, Boedvarsson, Sigthorsson, Arnasson|
|Subs:||Kristinsson, Jonsson, Hermannsson, Fjoluson, Fridjonsson, Eyfolfsson, Magnusson, Kjartansson, Thrandarson, Traustason|
|England (3-4-2-1):||Pickford, Walker, Coady, Mings, Trippier, Maitland-Niles, Rice, Grealish, Sancho, Sterling, Kane|
|Subs:||Henderson, Pope, Alexander-Arnold, Dier, Gomez, Keane, Foden, Mount, Phillips, Greenwood, Ings, Abraham|
So Far This Season
|Iceland This Season||England This Season|
|0 (0)||Wins (away)||0 (0)|
|0 (0)||Draws (away)||0 (0)|
|—||Top Goal Scorer||—|
|Y0, R0||Discipline||Y0, R0|
|0||Failures to Score||0|
|0%||Both Teams to Score Games||0%|
|0%||Over 2.5 Goals||0%|
|100%||Under 2.5 Goals||100%|
- Iceland and England have played each other just two times, both sides winning once.
- The two games have both yielded over 2.5 goals. The host has an average of 1.36 goals per game against the visitor’s 2.10 goals per game in the previous year.
- England will be out for blood after Iceland spectacularly knocked them out of the Euro 2016.
- The absence of three of their most talented players puts Iceland on the ropes, and they are likely to play conservatively, breaking on the counter.
Head to Head
|Last 5 meetings between the two sides|
|Date||Competition||Game Result||First Goal-scorer|
|27/06/2016||Euro||England 1 – 2 Iceland||R.Sigurdsson 6’|
|05/06/2004||Friendly||England 6 – 1 Iceland||Lampard 25’|
Conclusion & Betting Tips
For a team whose trademark is unity, the Iceland camp seems anything but at the moment with simmering anger at some players who appear to have put their clubs before their country. Iceland performed poorly in the first Nations League, initially relegated but saved after a reorganisation of the competition. Despite this, they will be tough to break down and will be motivated to prove the last result against England was no fluke.
Few teams love qualifiers more than England; it’s the later stages in competitions we struggle in! Southgate’s team selection has been hit with a few late withdrawals, and the Harry Maguire circus certainly hasn’t aided preparations. That said, the team available to Gareth is a good blend of experience and exciting talent.
Iceland broke our hearts in the Euros, we don’t see a similar scenario here, and we expect a routine win for England. Iceland will frustrate and defend in numbers, but the sheer quality in this England side should make it a comfortable win. The multiple goal scorer market looks attractive with Raheem Sterling priced @ 6/1 to score two goals or more at bet365.