This game is the final first knockout round fixture of Euro 2016 and it sees England take on Iceland, in what is a typical David vs Goliath encounter.
Iceland, with a population of around 330,000, have took this tournament by storm with their impeccable defensive displays as well as their threat on the counter attack.
Whilst England, have put in some impressive performances thus far. But Roy Hodgson’s men have not managed to create enough gilt edge opportunities to take games away from their opponents so far in Euro 2016.
Tonight’s game will be the third game between England and Iceland. England are unbeaten up to now, after drawing 1-1 in June 1982 in a World Cup warm-up match. Then, England eased to a 6-1 victory in June 2004 before the upcoming European Championship tournament during that Summer.
In this game, England’s ability to break down teams whilst dominating possession is likely to be tested. The Three Lions failed to do this against both Russia and Slovakia in the Group Stage.
It is important that England utilise their attacking full backs sufficiently, in an attempt to get round the back of Iceland’s strong defensive set up.
Kyle Walker is likely to be recalled to the starting eleven for tonight’s game and he has arguably been England’s best player so far, with his ferocious attacking play and his defensive ability which has evidently improved over the course of this season.
Iceland will look to frustrate their opponents tonight and catch them on the counter attack. This proved to be successful last time out in their history making 2-1 victory against Austria.
One player who will be familiar to the English players is Gylfi Sigurðsson. He has spent the majority of his career in England, plying his trade for Tottenham, Reading and Swansea. He has impressed throughout his Premier League career and he is set to be Iceland’s biggest threat tonight.
Another Iceland player who has gained many admirers this Summer is ex-Rotherham and Aberdeen defender, Kari Arnason. He earned the Man of the Match award in the game against Austria and the manner in which he authoritatively and calmly took care of Cristiano Ronaldo in the draw with Portugal means that many believe he has been Iceland’s best player so far in the tournament.
England manager, Roy Hodgson, has spoke of the enormity of tonight’s game for himself and his side in the build up to the game:
“Every result is significant when you are a coach but it is most significant for the team and the country first and foremost. We desperately want to stay in the tournament. We think we are good enough but we must get a result. It’s win or lose.
Whilst Iceland’s manager, Heimir Hallgrímsson, displayed his admiration for his players during his pre-match press conference:
We are too few to have an army, we’d be probably easily defeated if we go to war. These [players]are the Icelandic army and that’s why everybody is supporting them.
England are going to have to be ruthless in front of goal and take their chances against Iceland. Roy Hodgson’s men should have too much for Iceland and come out victorious. But if England do not get an early goal, it could be a very frustrating and disastrous night for the England contingent.
I see this as another tricky game for England, but eventually, I believe that they will come out as 2-0 victors.