England are set to face Iceland in the last-16 of the European Championships, and on the face of it, it is a foregone conclusion - England’s quality will be too much for the plucky Iceland team, and after defending manfully, they’ll concede to the mighty Three Lions, who will go on to win the game comfortably in the end.
Or at least that’s the plan.
The truth is, England would be making a grave mistake if they underestimate Iceland. Unfortunately, Roy Hodgson’s decision to change six players for the game against Slovakia smacked of arrogance and it backfired badly.
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England simply failed to get out of third gear, and the changes to the team seemed unnecessary. To add insult to injury, Wales beat Russia 3-0 and topped the group above England. Not a good day at the office for Hodgson and co.
Many will view the game with Iceland as a lucky break, but it isn’t that simple.
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Iceland not only qualified for the tournament on merit, but have so far played relatively well in the competition, and have proven to be a very hard team to break down.
With talented players like Swansea City’s Gylfi Sigurdsson in the team, they also pose a goal threat, and England will be wise to stay alert at all times.
They are also not short of confidence, with centre-back Ragnar Sigurdsson telling The Guardian: “It is a dream come true for us. We have grown up watching the Premier League, and I have always wanted to play against England.
“Our faith and belief is what has got us so far – and some Icelandic pride. We do not back down from anyone, and that team spirit and belief helps us a lot.”
Another concern is that England have not exactly set the world alight with their displays thus far in the competition. To underline the point, they have played three games and only scored three goals despite having over 60 attempts on goal. Hardly inspiring.
To beat Iceland they will need to move the ball a lot quicker and show a lot more dynamism in attack than they did against Slovakia. It certainly will not be as easy to beat Iceland as many people think.
What do England need to do to overcome Iceland? Let us know YOUR thoughts in the comment section below!