ENGLAND host Iceland on Wednesday. Jack Wright (@JackWright_BSB ) is on-hand to preview the match-up .
England vs Iceland | Wednesday 18th November 2020, 19:45 | Sky Sports
England and Iceland bring the curtain down on their disappointing UEFA Nations League campaigns as they meet at Wembley in the final game of League A, Group 2.
In a tournament designed to reduce the number of international friendlies that’s effectively what we have here as after defeats at the weekend, England are not only unable to qualify for the finals but not even improve on their third place in the group, and Iceland are already demoted to the second tier.
Raheem Sterling and Jordan Henderson have added their names to an already fairly lengthy injury list but with this being a deadrubber we could have expected Gareth Southgate to have used this match to rotate and look at some players on the fringes of his first XI anyway.
Iceland have already released six players back to their clubs ahead of this clash, and with Hordur Magnusson suspended, are using this opportunity to take a look at what the future may hold.
Wonderkid Isak Bergmann Johannesson, who is reportedly on the radar of Liverpool, Manchester United and Juventus, may see some game time as might Sveinn Aron Gudjohnsen, which I’m sure would make Eidur a very proud father. Both players should be considered in the shots market should they start. But enough of making myself feel old…
Erik Hamren and his team will be glad to see the back of this international break having had one foot in next summer’s European Championships as they led Hungary 1-0 until conceding an 88th minute equalizer and then an injury time goal to eliminate them. Two days later and Our Boys fell to another injury time defeat as Christian Eriksen gave Denmark hope of reaching the UNL finals with his late winner.
That was the ninth successive defeat in UNL competition for Iceland including all five games this campaign where they have conceded 13 goals and their winless away record in the last eight visits to League A nations (W0, D1, L7) doesn’t provide much hope of ending that dismal run at Wembley. In fact, the one-goal margin of defeat in Copenhagen was the first in that eight-game sequence not to be by two or more goals.
England to enjoy Iceland encounter
With England as short as 2/13 to get back to winning ways and a best price 4/6 (Boylesports) to be winning at half time and full time – an outcome that has landed in six of Iceland’s nine UNL games – I am instead going to take an angle in on what looks a nice even-money play.
I mentioned previously that this is effectively a friendly and in the Three Lion’s last two home games of that nature they ran out comfortable 3-0 winners – a contrast to their more labored displays in competitive fixtures. Added to those woeful Icelandic stats I am happy to take Bet365’s offer of 1/1 for England to score Over 2.5 Goals.
Our Boys’ pay the penalty
Another stat that caught my eye in contributing to Iceland’s recent poor defensive record was their regular concessions of penalties – four given away in the five UNL games so far with another in the Euro qualification semi-final victory over Romania – in all, five spot kicks conceded in their last seven games, all of which were scored.
With an unsuccessfully converted penalty of their own coming in the frantic injury time of the reverse fixture I looked at the different options available for getting a spot kick onside in this game. The best odds at time of writing for England to score a penalty are 16/5 with William Hill.
I don’t feel that’s enough reward for the extra risk involved to take a chance on when we can pick up 11/4 with Bet365 for simply a penalty to be awarded.
Weirdly – and here is the perfect example why you must shop around and pay close attention to the odds you are taking – the same firm go shorter (5/2) for England to actually score a penalty. Thanks, but no thanks…
Maguire to take aim
Finally, I’m going to the well again on one of England’s centre backs to register some shots.
I highlighted in my preview of the Belgium game that Gareth Southgate and his coaching team had seemingly worked on getting their side to become a threat from set pieces again – 10 corners won resulting in eight shots from defenders in the recent friendly against Ireland illustrating that fact.
Harry Maguire accounted for half those efforts on goal, with two on target, one of which opened the scoring. The expectation is for the Manchester United skipper to return to the starting line up here following his one match suspension and he is 6/1 with Betfair for four or more shots.
However, given the likely inexperienced make-up of the visitors team, the increased set piece threat and the likely number of opportunities for the 27-year-old to repeat hitting the target on at least two occasions I can’t resist taking up the offer of 19/1 with Betfair for him to do just that.
The same bet is 7/1 with both SkyBet and William Hill, while at time of writing Ladbrokes have yet to price the props markets, so it is definitely worth checking but a reminder that Betfair/Paddy Power do give you the option to cash out – so take the price and assess your options at your leisure is my advice.