Iceland v England Preview: Can Gareth Southgate’s side win their Nations League opener?
Odds and preview ahead of Nations League Group A2 tie
Iceland shocked the world of football last time they lined up on the pitch against England, securing a 2-1 win at Euro 2016.
Four years on and there’s much more optimism around the England squad, with Roy Hodgson no longer at the helm, and Gareth Southgate working wonders with the introduction of a much more youthful look to the Three Lions.
Southgate’s side have come close to winning a major tournament twice since that defeat to Iceland, most recently finishing third in the inaugural Nations League.
With Euro 2020 now scheduled to take place next year, this could be the perfect opportunity for those wearing the Three Lions shirt to claim their place in that squad.
Ahead of the action, we’ve previewed all you need to know.
England head into their Nations League opener this season as the odds-on 1/4 favourites. Iceland caused a shock in their last meeting, but they’re 12/1 underdogs.
Could Iceland claim another 2-1 win over England in a major tournament? Our traders have that priced at 33/1 this time around.
Three Lions captain Harry Kane is the 12/5 favourite to open the scoring, or you can find 3/4 on him finding the net anytime. Danny Ings and Tammy Abraham are 10/11 anytime too.
Holmbert Aron Fridjonsson and Kolbeinn Sigthorsson are the 12/1 favourites to score first for Iceland, or you can find 4/1 on them scoring anytime.
England will be without some of their usual superstars for this Group A2 clash, but that doesn’t mean the squad is down on quality.
With many England stars, younger and older, enjoying such successful Premier League campaigns, Gareth Southgate has been somewhat spoilt for choice when it comes to his squad selection.
Harry Maguire, Marcus Rashford and Harry Winks have all withdrawn from the squad for different reasons.
Southgate has replaced them with three uncapped players in the form of Conor Coady, Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Jack Grealish, and it’s hard to argue against any of their calls being justified.
Maguire’s absence could leave Southgate with a selection headache though, with Joe Gomez, Eric Dier, Tyrone Mings, Michael Keane and Coady fighting it out for those central defensive places.
There’s no natural left back included in the squad too due to injuries to both Luke Shaw and Ben Chilwell. That could see Kyle Walker fill in down the left, with Maitland-Niles experienced in that role too after showing his versatility at Arsenal.
Elsewhere, the starting spot between the sticks is up for debate too. Jordan Pickford has been considered England’s number one most recently, but his poor season for Everton may mean both Nick Pope and Dean Henderson have moved in front of him after their magnificent seasons.
As for Iceland, they’ll be without a few of their star players too. Both Everton’s Gylfi Sigurdsson and Burnley’s Johann Berg Gudmundsson made themselves unavailable for these qualifying games, with one eye on preparations for the Premier League.
They’ll also be missing captain Aron Gunnarsson after he was faced with travel restrictions from Qatar, where he plays for Al-Arabi.
In that famous 2-1 win, Ragnar Sigurdsson claimed the Icelandic equaliser to set them on their way, but they’ll be without Copenhagen’s defender here. Augsburg’s Alfred Finnbogason also misses the match.
Their high-profile absences make their task even harder than before, with England on a three-match winning streak, scoring 17 without reply in that time.
Southgate and co. could use this as an opportunity to put out a warning to the rest of those teams in the group, and across the Nations League. Without a trophy since that famous World Cup win in 1966, could this be England’s best chance to end that 54-year drought?
All odds and markets correct as of date of publication.