England will be aiming to end their 2020/21 UEFA Nations League campaign on a strong note when they lock horns with Iceland on Wednesday.

We are heading into the final matchday of the group stages of the 2020/21 UEFA Nations League and England will be hoping to wind things off on a high when they face off against Iceland at the Wembley Stadium this week.

England’s hopes of making it to consecutive finals of the Nations League were dashed when they were handed a 2-0 defeat by Belgium. The Three Lions will finish third in Group A2, safe from relegation but with no chance of finishing second in the standings, irrespective of the result of Wednesday’s game.

Iceland have been relegated to League B, after having failed to collect a single point from their five fixtures so far. It will be manager Erik Hamren’s last match in charge of the team with his sacking confirmed after Iceland failed to qualify for the Euros next year, following their 2-1 defeat to Hungary last week, which was followed by another loss to Denmark in the Nations League.

The reverse fixture played in Reykjavik saw England eke out a narrow 1-0 victory over Iceland courtesy a stoppage-time strike from Raheem Sterling. And ahead of their latest meeting at Wembley, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both the teams.

Team News & Tactics

England

Jordan Henderson picked up an injury against Belgium (Photo courtesy: AFP/Getty)

Jordan Henderson picked up an injury against Belgium (Photo courtesy: AFP/Getty)

An already injury-hit England side has been further ravaged with fitness issues as both Jordan Henderson and Ben Chilwell might miss out on Wednesday, having come off injured in the defeat to Belgium. Raheem Sterling missed the weekend clash due to a knock and is unlikely to be risked for the Iceland encounter.

With the team’s fate in the Nations League sealed, Southgate could opt to ring in the changes on Wednesday, with some of the non-regulars likely to get a game. Dean Henderson, who finds himself in a tough situation at Manchester United, could be in line for a starting berth in goal for the Three Lions.

Henderson’s club teammate Harry Maguire, who is back from suspension, ought to start in the three-man backline alongside Kyle Walker and Michael Keane, who was not used against Belgium. Arsenal duo Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Bukayo Saka ought to line up as the wing-backs on the right and left sides respectively.

With Henderson a doubt for the game, Harry Winks, who replaced the Liverpool skipper against Belgium, ought to start in the middle of the park on Wednesday. Partnering him could be teenage sensation Jude Bellingham, who is likely to be rewarded for his brilliant form at Borussia Dortmund with his first start for England.

Jack Grealish was head and shoulders above the rest of the England players against Belgium. However, having started back-to-back games, he could be given a breather here, with Jadon Sancho likely to start on the right, while Phil Foden could get the nod on the left. Dominic Calvert-Lewin ought to start in the centre-forward role ahead of Tammy Abraham and captain Harry Kane.

Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Henderson; Walker, Keane, Maguire; Maitland-Niles, Bellingham, Winks, Saka; Sancho, Foden; Calvert-Lewin

Iceland

Iceland have made six changes to the roster ahead of their final UEFA Nations League game against England. Aron Gunnarsson, Alfred Finnbogason, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Johann Berg Gudmundsson, Ragnar Sigurdsson and Vidar Kjartansson have all been withdrawn.

Sigurdsson and Gunnarsson will both be unavailable for Iceland (Photo courtesy - Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)

Sigurdsson and Gunnarsson will both be unavailable for Iceland (Photo courtesy – Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)

In their place, U-21 players Alfons Sampsted, Jon Thorsteinsson, Andri Baldursson, Sveinn Gudjohnsen and Isak Johannesson have been called up to the squad. Besides, the visitors will also have to make do without Hordur Magnusson, who is suspended for the contest. Willum Willumsson, who was supposed to join with the senior team from the U21s, is out with an injury.

Hamren has switched between a 4-4-2 and a 3-5-2 formation in recent fixtures but is likely to go with the former, having played the same shape and ran England close the last time these two sides met. While there isn’t much left to play, the manager is likely to field a strong XI to pick up at least one win in the Nations League.

36-year-old Hannes Halldorsson is likely to return in goal, while Birkir Saevarsson and Ari Skulason take up the full-back slots flanking the centre-back duo of Kari Arnason and Sverrir Ingason.

Victor Palsson and Birkir Bjarnason are likely to slot in on the flanks and provide additional support to the full-backs, while also pushing up forward when in possession. Runar Sigurjonsson and Arnor Sigurdsson ought to be the two central midfielders. Kolbeinn Sigthorsson and Albert Gudmundsson ought to start as the two centre-forwards.

Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Halldorsson; Saevarsson, Ingason, Arnason, Skulason; Palsson, Sigurjonsson, Sigurdsson, Bjarnason; Sigthorsson, Gudmundsson

Key Stats

  • This will be just the fifth meeting between England and Iceland. The Three Lions have won two of the previous four meetings, while the Strákarnir Okkar have come out on top once (D1).
  • England have found the back of the net on nine occasions in their four meetings against Iceland while letting in five. Southgate’s men managed a clean sheet in their last encounter against the Icelanders.
  • After having won seven games in a row, England have lost two of their last three encounters.
  • Iceland, on the other hand, have lost six of their last seven matches, with the only win coming against Romania.
  • In their seven matches in 2020, England have managed to keep four clean sheets, while Iceland have managed none.

Player to Watch

Jude Bellingham

From playing in the EFL Championship to going onto represent one of most exciting teams in Europe and then making his national team debut, the past few months have been quite a whirlwind for 17-year-old Jude Bellingham. The teenage midfielder has been in fine form for Borussia Dortmund, scoring one and assisting two more in 11 games so far this term.

On the back of this, he was drafted into the England squad and went on to make his debut, coming on as a substitute in the friendly against the Republic of Ireland. In the process, he became the third-youngest player to represent England.

Having gotten the taste of international football, Bellingham could be in line for a bigger role on Wednesday. And the teenager, should he get the nod, will hope to show off his chemistry and partnership with club teammate Jadon Sancho on the international stages.

Prediction

England 2-0 Iceland

England may have lost to Belgium last time out but they will be facing an Iceland side that is in woeful form and will be without several key players for the game. And even though Gareth Southgate rotates his troops for Wednesday, there should be enough in the tank for the Three Lions to pick up a win at Wembley.

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