Euro 2016 2nd round fantasy preview: England v Iceland
Iceland scored a stoppage time winner against Austria to ensure that they would finish in second place in Group F, setting up a round-of-16 clash with England.
Roy Hodgson came in for fierce criticism after rotating his line-up heavily for England’s final group match against Slovakia, a decision that seems to have backfired with the Three Lions now finding themselves in the tough side of the draw that includes Spain, Germany, France and Italy.
So how have England fared against Iceland in the past ?
England v Iceland head-to-head
England have only faced Iceland on two previous occasions, a 1-1 draw in 1982 and a 6-1 victory in 2004 at the City of Manchester Stadium in which a certain Wayne Rooney scored twice.
However, this will be the first time the nations have met in a competitive match and banana skins don’t come any bigger than this. Icelandic commentator Gudmundur Benediktsson went ballistic following their winning goal against the Austrians so imagine his reaction if they were to pull off a shock against England?
For a nation with a population of just 330,000 it would arguably be one of the biggest upsets in football history were the Icelandic team to prevail. The aforementioned Benediktsson would surely go down in folklore if he is behind the microphone again and it would be disappointing if he failed to rival this infamous piece of commentating from the legenday Bjørge Lillelien, when Norway shocked England with a 2-1 victory in a World Cup qualifier in 1981.
England fantasy players to watch
Roy Hodgson is almost certain to recall Wayne Rooney and Dele Alli to his starting line-up while changes are also expected in the full-back positions. They will join trigger-happy Eric Dier in Hodgson’s midfield and the Spurs’ man could be an interesting proposition for fantasy football managers who are looking for a contrarian play.
Rooney has established himself as England’s main set-piece taker, with no other player in the squad appearing to have the prerequisite quality needed in dead ball situations.
Hodgson seems to be a big fan of Adam Lallana but there are question marks over the other two forward positions. Jamie Vardy has turned down Arsenal but he may have to make do with a place on the bench again, if Harry Kane is recalled, while Daniel Sturridge may retain his place. Kane, the Premier League Golden Boot winner, will see the game against Iceland as the ideal opportunity to open his account at Euro 2016 if selected.
Iceland fantasy players to watch
Gylfi Sigurðsson needs no introduction to Premier League fans and the Swansea City midfielder will take the majority of set-pieces for his team.
However, Iceland only averaged 34.3% possession in the group stages and they are not expected to fare much better against England in terms of keeping the ball. Goalkeeeper Hannes Halldórsson made more saves than any other stopper, though, throughout the group stage and is sure to be in for yet another busy night. If he does manage to pull off a clean sheet he’s likely to secure a huge fantasy score and it should be noted that he was Iceland’s highest rated player by WhoScored throughout the group stage of Euro 2016, averaging a score of 7.31 in the process.
England versus Iceland is the final match of the 2nd round fixtures – Roy Hodgson will be praying that his side doesn’t go down in history for all the wrong reasons!