England’s Euro 2016 campaign continues into the knockout stages with a round of 16 clash against underdogs Iceland on Monday (8pm on ITV1). Here is our preview of this crucial winner-takes-all game with betting tips.
Roy Hodgson’s side qualified for these latter stages by finishing in second place in Group B after one win and two draws. Their time in France began with a 1-1 draw against Russia, a game which England dominated from start to finish. However they failed to pick up three points from after Vasili Berezutski’s late leveller in second-half stoppage time.
It was England who then hit a dramatic late goal in their next encounter against Wales, Daniel Sturridge’s strike putting his side 2-1 ahead with just seconds left on the clock. Top spot in the group was therefore in the hands of Hodgson and his players heading into their final meeting with Slovakia, but England were punished for their profligacy in front of goal with a mere goalless draw. Wales’ convincing 3-0 defeat of Russia meant it was Chris Coleman’s men who advanced to the last 16 in first place.
It was a major upset when Iceland finished above Turkey and the Netherlands to qualify for Euro 2016, but nobody really expected them to be able to do much in the competition itself. Remaining unbeaten in Group F was therefore a phenomenal achievement for the nation that is home to only 330,000 people, with a 1-1 draw against Portugal in their opening encounter setting the tone for Iceland punching above their weight in the first stage of the tournament. A 2-1 triumph over Austria – which followed another 1-1 draw with group winners Hungary – last Wednesday sent Iceland through in second spot and set up a last 16 tie with England.
While their results have not been quite as good as expected, England have performed pretty well at the European Championship up to now. The Three Lions created numerous good chances against both Russia and Slovakia and really should have won both games, although their poor finishing is likely to be a concern for Hodgson. Wayne Rooney (pictured), Danny Rose and Dele Alli will probably return to the starting XI after being rested against the Slovakians, and it will be interesting to see whether Nathaniel Clyne or Kyle Walker is selected at right-back. The former was probably England’s best player last time out, but the Tottenham Hotspur man was excellent – particularly in an attacking sense – in the draw with Russia and win over Wales.
Iceland joint managers Lars Lagerback and Heimir Hallgrimsson have employed a 4-4-2 formation throughout the competition, just as they did in the qualifying campaign. England will be allowed to have plenty of possession as Iceland sit back in a deep and compact defensive shape – they must ensure they remain calm even if they do not make the breakthrough early on – and there will be very little space to exploit in behind and in between the lines of midfield and defence. Iceland have demonstrated great patience in their matches so far. While that word is usually used to describe teams in possession, Lagerback and Hallgrimsson’s charges have actually showcased it when they do not have the ball, with every player disciplined when it comes to holding his position within the wider defensive structure.
Our Preview’s England v Iceland Betting Tips
It is not too difficult for this preview to envisage odds-on England struggling against an Iceland outfit who will be out to frustrate them, but they should still have enough to advance to the quarter-finals.
Backing a 2-0 victory could be a good option, and that is one of our betting tips, with perhaps both goals coming at some point in the second half. A wager on Adam Lallana to score the first of the game is tempting. Finishing is not necessarily the Liverpool man’s strong point, but he has got himself into some excellent scoring positions so far in France.