England beat Switzerland to finish third in 2019 | TF-Images/Getty Images
For the first time since the astonishing game at Euro 2016, Iceland and England face off on Saturday as both teams kick off their Nations League campaigns.
The Three Lions players collapsed at the final whistle on 27 June that year, with their opponents in pandemonium as the sound of the thunderclap deafened the stadium. By a 2-1 scoreline, Iceland had knocked England out of the Euros.
Gareth Southgate’s side finished third in the 2019 edition of the Nations League and will be looking to go further this year. With Belgium also in their group, it’s essential they get off to a winning start.
When Is Kick Off? Saturday 5 September
What Time Is Kick Off? 17:00 (BST)
Where Is it Played? Laugardalsvöllur, Reykjavik
TV Channel/Live Stream? Sky SportsSky Sports (UK)
Referee? Srdjan Jovanovic
England have six players who could make their debut against Iceland, with Mason Greenwood, Phil Foden, Kalvin Phillips, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Conor Coady and Jack Grealish all called up for the first time.
Aston Villa skipper Jack Grealish has finally been called up | Justin Setterfield/Getty Images
There were concerns over player safety due to a recent spike in Covid-19 cases, but it has been revealed that all squad members have tested negative. Marcus Rashford and Harry Winks have both dropped out of the England squad with injuries. Despite being initially named in the squad, Harry Maguire will not feature due to his legal situation.
England have no obvious option to play at left back, so Maitland-Niles – who has shown his versatility for Arsenal – could slip in. Alternatively, either Kyle Walker or Kieran Trippier could switch over.
Iceland will be without Everton’s Gylfi Sigurðsson and Burnley’s Johann Berg Gudmundsson, both of whom made themselves unavailable due to the imminent return of the Premier League. Kolbeinn Sigþórsson, scorer of the decisive goal the last time the sides met, is in the squad.
Everton midfielder Gylfi Sigurðsson turned down his manager’s call | Michael Regan/Getty Images
England: Henderson; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Keane, Maitland-Niles; Rice, Mount, Foden; Sterling, Kane, Sancho.
Iceland: Halldórsson; Hermannsson, Eyjólfsson, Ingason, Skúlason; Bjarnason, Friðjónsson, A. Sigurðsson, Anderson; Sigþórsson, Böðvarsson.
England come into this game off the back of three fixtures in which they scored a total of 17 goals without reply, albeit against lesser opposition in Kosovo, Montenegro and Bulgaria. Their last fixture came back in November.
The Three Lions have struggled with consistency following the World Cup in 2018. There have been promising signs, with victory against Spain a notable high point. However, they were dumped out of last year’s Nations League by the Netherlands and also lost to the Czech Republic.
Iceland have looked good as of late, with victories over Turkey and Albania last year. Their only losses in 2019 came at the hands of World Cup holders France and in the reverse fixture against Albania.
Rashford was on the score-sheet against Spain | Soccrates Images/Getty Images
Here’s a look at each side’s last five games.
Kosovo 0-4 England (17/11/19)
England 7-0 Montenegro (14/11/19)
Bulgaria 0-6 England (14/10/19)
Czech Republic 2-1 England (11/10/19)
England 5-3 Kosovo (10/9/19)
Iceland 1-0 El Salvador (20/1/20)
Iceland 1-0 Canada (16/1/20)
Moldova 1-2 Iceland (17/11/19)
Turkey 0-0 Iceland (14/11/19)
Iceland 2-0 Andorra (14/10/19)
Jadon Sancho is one of England’s most exciting talents | DeFodi Images/Getty Images
Iceland have shown before they are not to be underestimated and England will be wary of embarrassment this time around. However, without their two star midfielders, it might be difficult for the Nordic side to gain any control of the game.
This new-look England side might lack experience but they’ll be desperate to impress manager Southgate, with competition for places fierce ahead of next year’s rescheduled Euros.
With so many fresh faces, it might take a while for them to get firing on all cylinders, but with a forward line of Jadon Sancho, Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling and a bench brewing with exciting talent, England should come out as comfortable victors in Reykjavik.
Prediction: Iceland 0-2 England