England will play their first international fixture in almost a year on Saturday, as they travel to Reykjavik to take on the ever-enigmatic Iceland.
It’s been just over four years since the relative minnows, appearing at their first ever European Championships, unceremoniously dumped Roy Hodgson’s Three Lions out of the competition in the Round of 16.
Since then, not much has changed for the nation that popularised the iconic ‘Viking Thunder clap’. What they lack in talent, they more than make up for in passion and tenacity – and it shows in their impressive home form.
Since their enigmatic performance at Euro 2016, Erik Hamrén’s side have won nine of their ten home qualifying matches for international tournaments – with their only defeat coming against world champions France in October 2019.
Affectionately referred to as ‘Our Boys’ by their fans, have been forced into making some serious changes to their squad – rendering them without five members of their strongest starting XI.
Captain Aron Gunnarsson has been blocked from travelling under FIFA rules by Al-Arabi, whilst Premier League duo Gylfi Sigurdsson and Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson have opted to remain with their club sides – as has Augsburg’s Alfreð Finnbogason, with most-capped (active) outfield player Ragnar Sigurðsson ruled out through injury.
Where Iceland’s changes are enforced, England’s are welcome – as Gareth Southgate looks to tinker with his squad ahead of the 2021 European Championships.
Seven of the 24 squad members are uncapped internationally, with 18-year-old Mason Greenwood the pick of the bunch after bursting onto the scene for Manchester United last season – scoring five times in eight appearances coming off the right wing, following the Premier League’s restart.
Polarising playmaker Jack Grealish became a late addition to the squad, alongside Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Conor Coady, joining up with fellow uncapped players Phil Foden, Dean Henderson and Leeds United midfielder Kalvin Phillips – the only player in the squad never to have played top-flight football.
Looking at the inexperience in both sides (England’s seven recognised midfielders have 15 combined international appearances), there’s every chance the start to this game could be a cagey one.
However, I reckon England have the firepower to really put this Iceland side to the sword – as Switzerland did during the last iteration of the Nations League, winning 6-0 in St.Gallen.
Back England to win the match and Over 2.5 Goals at 21/20.
While out tips are written with research these are our opinions only and we cannot guarantee profits on our selections.