England wound up 1-0 winners against Iceland in September | Haflidi Breidfjord/Getty Images
England host Iceland in their penultimate fixture of the 2020/21 Nations League group stages on Wednesday evening, where both sides are playing for pride and nothing more.
Defeat against Belgium on Sunday means England are unable to qualify for next year’s Nations League finals, while Iceland’s fate is already sealed having lost five of six games so far, meaning they’ll be relegated to League B.
For England, it’s a chance to right the wrongs of defeat against the Red Devils at the weekend and perhaps rotate the side with nothing to play for. Iceland will be desperate not to finish bottom of group A2 with six straight defeats and will throw everything they have at Gareth Southgate’s men in the hope of avenging September’s 1-0 defeat.
Here’s 90min’s preview of the clash.
When is Kick Off? Wednesday 18 November
What Time is Kick Off? 19:45 (GMT)
Where is it Played? Wembley Stadium
TV Channel/Live Stream? Sky Sports Main Event
Referee? Fabio Verissimo (IT)
Look away now, Liverpool fans.
The international break has proven disastrous for Liverpool with Joe Gomez suffering a long-term knee injury last week. Jordan Henderson is now the latest to be added to their injury list, having been substituted off with tightness in his leg at half time against Belgium.
It throws his availability into doubt for Liverpool upon the return of club football at the weekend and means England are likely to rotate once again against Iceland. Harry Winks replaced Henderson in the defeat and thus could start against Iceland on Wednesday.
Liverpool may struggle this weekend. pic.twitter.com/RxpVReh2SX
— 90min (@90min_Football) November 16, 2020
17-year-old Jude Bellingham could also be handed a start after impressing in a cameo performance against Ireland last week. Tammy Abraham, Phil Foden and Michael Keane were all also unused substitutes against Belgium and could return to the side as a result.
Chelsea’s Reece James remains suspended and left-back Ben Chilwell picked up a knock, but Harry Maguire is available once again and could return to the lineup.
Iceland travel to England with a number of unavailable players; Gylfi Sigurdsson, Aron Gunnarsson and Johan Berg Gudmundsson have all been ruled out of the clash, meaning they’ll be without some key figures in an already tough contest.
England: Henderson; Walker, Maguire, Keane; Maitland-Niles, Winks, Rice, Saka; Foden, Calvert-Lewin, Sancho
Iceland: Runarsson; Ingason, Eyjolfsson, Magnusson; Saevarsson, Sigurjonsson, Bjarnasson, A.Sigurdsson, Skulason; Bodvarsson, A.Gudmundsson
It’s been a rather underwhelming international break for Gareth Southgate’s squad. Anything less than victory over Ireland would’ve been disappointing and failure to turn it on against Belgium has cost the Three Lions a place in the Nations League finals next October.
The squad is missing some household names, however. Harry Maguire has had to sit out a suspension, while Marcus Rashford, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joe Gomez and now Raheem Sterling are all absent through injuries.
Harry Maguire is available once again after serving his suspension | Pool/Getty Images
The heavily congested season has taken it’s toll on players and clubs at a domestic level, which has seemingly translated to the international stage. Iceland have endured a miserable international break and have only won two of their last eight games.
While there isn’t anything to play for, a win would provide a much-needed confidence boost for both sides. Here’s how they’ve fared in their last five fixtures.
Belgium 2-0 England (15/11)
England 3-0 Ireland (12/11)
England 0-1 Denmark (14/10)
England 2-1 Belgium (11/10)
England 3-0 Wales (8/10)
Denmark 2-1 Iceland (15/11)
Hungary 2-1 Iceland (12/11)
Iceland 1-2 Belgium (14/10)
Iceland 0-3 Denmark (11/10)
Iceland 2-1 Romania (8/10)
Domestic managers will be watching this one closely and nervously throughout the 90 minutes; not because they’re particularly interested in the score, but because there’s club football to play at weekend and teams need as few injuries as possible, with the numbers starting to rack up.
As unimportant as the game might feel, failure to win here would dent England’s confidence significantly. Three points and a comprehensive result is a must after a disappointing loss and outcome against Belgium, thus playing an out-of-form Iceland is the perfect chance to reassure fans that it was just a blip.
Gareth Southgate must drill an air of urgency into his players for their game against Iceland | John Berry/Getty Images
Iceland are desperate for a win from anywhere, and while England won’t be at their best, they’ll still have enough to edge their visitors.
Prediction: England 2-1 Iceland