With the speed in which this Euro 2016 tournament has been progressing at 7 days seems such a long time ago but after a disappointing stalemate against Slovakia last Monday, Roy Hodgson’s side finally get round to playing their Round of 16 tie against Iceland tonight.
It could have been a much different story had it not be for the Arnor Ingvi Traustason’s dramatic 94th minute winner against Austria last Wednesday. It seemed as if English fans across the nation were bemoaning the fact that it looked set to be England vs Portugal tonight but they would have been Iceland fans for at least a few minutes once news filtered through of their winner
It may look an easier game on paper but Iceland really can’t be overlooked. They were more than equal to what Portugal threw at them in their opener and were just moments away from a first historic win against Hungary only for them to put through their own net. That win would finally come around at the third time of asking and the optimism in the Icelandic camp that they can pull off a shock will be high.
It would be easy to say that Gylfi Sigurdsson will be the danger man as anyone who watches Premier League football on a regular basis will know what he is capable of but the Icelandic side are a unit that balances skill with pure grit and determination and they will be difficult for England to break down.
In terms of breaking teams down England came unstuck against Slovakia as that draw meant that Wales subsequently leapfrogged them at the top of Group B and came away with a much easier route in the knockout stages.
Without getting ahead of myself if England do go onto win this game tonight they would then face France in the Quarters and then one of either Germany, Italy, Spain in the Semi’s so if they are to get to the Final they are going to have to do it the hard way
Roy Hodgson made 6 changes for that game against Slovakia and the gamble somewhat backfired. You could see what he was trying to do in rotating players and keeping them fresh but after the win over Wales momentum would have been so high that he should have continued with the winning formula.
He was damned if he did and damned if he didn’t. If England won that game then the changes are a good idea but as we didn’t it was then the obvious stick to beat him with. But it also means there will be more changes in tonight’s lineup
One that has already been mooted is Raheem Sterling coming back into the side. That might not sit too well with the majority of fans as many have felt he has had a very underwhelming tournament. The Manchester City winger has looked short on confidence and very short on end product.
It looks like Adam Lallana will be the man to make way for Sterling while Harry Kane will also be given another opportunity to spearhead England’s attack. The other man in front three will be Daniel Sturridge meaning that Jamie Vardy will have to make do with the role of impact sub.
This is a huge game not just for England but for Roy Hodgson defeat here and it would almost certainly mean that the Football Association won’t be renewing his contract for the 2018 World Cup campaign. Will we be witnessing the end of an era Tonight.
Thankfully for Hodgson I don’t think that will be the case as I think England will bounce back and put Iceland out of the competition. For many neutrals Iceland have been a second team but that support is going to come to and end just like their tournament participation. An England win for me.