It’s been nearly 10 months since England last played international football. Gareth Southgate’s team face a tricky trip to Iceland where they look to make amends for that shock defeat in the 2016 Euros.
Iceland are always a tough team to beat, but Erik Hamren’s side will be without several key players in their opening game of the Nations League tournament. England will be using the match to give the first senior call-up to many promising youngsters. We’ll be providing you with betting tips for this long overdue return of international football.
Iceland have been one of the breakthrough teams on the international football scene over the past five years. Strong performances in the Euros and World Cup has shown that this tiny nation can punch well above its weight.
However, Erik Hamren’s team have already suffered a setback in the build-up to this Nations League clash. This is because Premier League stars Gylfi Sigurdsson and Johann Berg Gudmundsoson have made themselves unavailable for Saturday’s game.
Plus other top players such as Aron Gunnarsson, Alfred Finnbogason and Ragnar Sigurdsson will also be absent for the England game. This is all the more disappointing as Iceland are unbeaten in their last five international matches.
Gareth Southgate is using Saturday’s match to give several promising youngsters their first start in an England shirt. As such we could expect the likes of Mason Greenwood, Jack Grealish, Conor Coady, Kalvin Philips and Ainsley Maitland-Niles to get their international debuts.
This comes at the expense of Harry Maguire who was withdrawn due to the unfortunate incidents in Greece, while Marcus Rashford will be out of the England team due to an ankle injury.
England will be keen to build on the stunning form that they showed in last year’s Euro qualifiers. With 37 goals scored in eight games, it shows that Southgate’s team are a real attacking force.
There have only been three games between Iceland and England before. What makes this all the more interesting is that the results are evenly balanced between these two teams. The head-to-head encounters have produced one win for each team, and one draw.
Iceland’s shock 2-1 win over England in the Euro 2016 tournament will cast a long shadow over Saturday’s game. This led to England being knocked out of the competition, and it caused Roy Hodgson to resign from his managerial duties. The result was England’s most embarrassing defeat since they were beaten by USA in the 1950 World Cup.
England managed to make a strong start thanks to Wayne Rooney scoring a penalty in the fourth minute. But it took Iceland little more than a minute to equalise thanks to a Ragnar Sigurdsson strike. England’s goalkeeper Joe Hart was at fault for Iceland’s second goal as he let a Kolbeinn Sigthorsson’s shot slip through his fingers.
While Hodgson took the blame for the shock result, England’s players were all dismal that night in Nice. Rooney put in one of his worst performances for the team, and promising youngsters like Harry Kane and Dele Alli failed to get England an equaliser. All of which deeply scarred England’s footballing reputation and it makes Saturday’s game all the more important.
Prior to this, England had thrashed Iceland 6-1 in the 2004 FA Summer Tournament. This saw the likes of Frank Lampard, Wayne Rooney, Darius Vassell and Wayne Bridge getting their names on the scoresheet. The only previous game was an international friendly in 1982 that saw the teams drawing 1-1. This match was the only time that England have played in Reykjavik before.
The current Covid-19 circumstances have removed the element of home advantage. As such Iceland will have to welcome England without having the support of the thousands of fans who would have packed out the Laugardalsvöllur stadium. It would have been a remarkable game seeing as England haven’t played in the country for nearly 40 years.
England will be desperate to make amends for that Euro 2016 shock defeat. Gareth Southgate’s team are in fine goalscoring form at the moment, while Iceland will be much more vulnerable as a result of the withdrawal of key midfielders like Gylfi Sigurdsson. The fact that the game is being played behind closed doors will again be in England’s favour.
As such it’s easy to see why England are the clear favourites to win this Nations League game. If you’re looking for value with your bets, then you might want to try a bet on England to win with both teams to score. After all, England’s defence has hardly been solid recently. Betway currently has the best odds for this market of 3.60.