Iceland and England kick off their respective UEFA Nations League campaigns on Saturday evening as they clash in Reykjavík.
Coming into the second revised edition of the tournament, both sides will certainly be hoping to qualify from a group that also includes Belgium and Denmark. Iceland will be be striving for an improved showing following a poor Nations League campaign last time out that saw them finish the group stage without a point and only one goal. Meanwhile, Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions finished top of their group, advancing to the semi-finals in Portugal, where they eventually finished third following a playoff penalty shootout victory against Switzerland.
England currently sit amongst the favourites to win the tournament this time around at a price of 6/1 with Paddy Power, whilst they are at odd of 6/5 to win the group. Iceland are not as fancied to go all the way and can be backed at a 150/1 to be lifting the UEFA Nations League trophy in 2021 but are at 20/1 to win the group and progress to the semi-finals next year.
It goes without saying that if Erik Hamren and his men harbour any aspirations of reaching that stage this time, they need to get off to a good start and that means beating England. One thing they certainly have in their hands in that regard is history having famously overcome the Three Lions the last time the two teams met in a 2-1 win in Euro 2016. The hosts are available at 11/1 with William Hill to repeat that historic feat, with England more fancied at 24/100 and a draw at 17/4.
One aspect that the visitors will be somewhat confident of as they travel to the Icelandic capital though is their recent defensive record. Since the Nations League semi-finals, England have played six matches, keeping clean sheets in four of those, including the last three. Southgate’s troops are at 5/6 with Betfair to win to nil this time around.
One man that the Three Lions will certainly have to keep an eye out for though is Kolbeinn Sigthorsson. The country’s all-time record goalscorer netted the winner against England at the Euros and sits at a price of 11/1 with Betfred to net first this time around. Meanwhile, Harry Kane is the favourite to score first from the visitors’ perspective at 2/1.
Despite the regular names potentially set to get on the scoresheet, both teams could have a different complexion for the game due to a few absentees. Gylfi Sigurdsson, Aron Gunnarsson, Alfred Finnbogason and Ragnar Sigurdsson are all not available for selection for the hosts, whilst Johan Berg Gudmunsson is not fit enough to play.
Meanwhile, Southgate cannot call upon the services of a few regulars for the upcoming match. Marcus Rashford, Jordan Henderson, Harry Winks, Harry Maguire and Ben Chilwell are all absent from the squad.