Germany are aiming to end the international break on a high when they take on Iceland in Reykjavik on Wednesday.
After securing a resounding 6-0 victory over Armenia in Stuttgart, Germany travel to Reykjavik this week, as they face Iceland on Wednesday. The game will be hosted at the Laugardalsvollur, with the visitors hoping for all three points in an attempt to end the international break on a positive note.
Die Mannschaft‘s spell under new coach Hansi Flick has started out extremely well, with the team securing back-to-back wins over Liechtenstein and Armenia. It has put them in the driver’s seat of the Group J table of the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers and another win this midweek could go a long way in their quest to secure qualification.
Iceland, though, can’t afford to settle for anything other than a win after starting their qualification campaign poorly. The Nordic country has secured only four points in their first five matches, and are only ahead of the minnows Liechtenstein in the group table.
The reverse fixture of this particular clash in Group J saw Germany register a resounding 3-0 victory in Duisburg back in March. But Iceland will be aware of the fact that a surprising win could help them put pressure on Romania, North Macedonia and Armenia, all of whom must face the Germans once again.
It gives the hosts a ray of hope as they look to make a late push for qualifications. And here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over these two sides ahead of their crucial encounter in Reyjavik this midweek.
Team News & Tactics
Iceland coach Arnar Vidarsson is unlikely to stray too much from his core setup despite relatively poor performances in the World Cup qualifiers so far.
The 43-year-old could be forced to make at least one change, though, with left-back Gudmundur Thorarinsson picking up a knock in the last game. He is set to be replaced by Ari Freyr Skulason, as he looks to complete the Icelandic back-four consisting of him, Hjortur Hermannsson, Brynjar Ingi Bjarnason and the right-back Birkir Mar Saevarsson.
Vidarsson is most likely to stick to his 4-3-3 setup as well but given the quality of the opposition, the wide attackers could be asked to play a deeper role to support the second line of press. Unfortunately, Albert Gudmundsson is suspended, which means Jon Dagur Thorsteinsson could get a starting opportunity at right-wing.
Birkir Bjarnason, meanwhile, may move to the left to accommodate Victor Palsson in the holding midfield role. The Schalke midfielder is set to be partnered by Isak Bergmann Johannesson and Andri Fannar Baldursson, just behind the central striker Andri Gudjohnsen, who is the son of former Barcelona star and current Iceland assistant manager Eidur Gudjohnsen.
Probable Lineup (4-5-1): Runarsson; Säevarsson, Hermannsson, Br. Bjarnason, Skulason; Thorsteinsson, Baldursson, Palsson, Johannesson, Bi. Bjarnason; Gudjohnsen
Hansi Flick is naturally expected to ring in the changes to his side despite the 6-0 win over Armenia. But he won’t make a complete overhaul knowing a win this midweek could be vital and help his team gain the advantage in this qualifying group.
— Die Mannschaft (@DFB_Team) September 7, 2021
As such, the key components of his setup in Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka remain guaranteed starters. Their understanding and familiarity with each other in the middle of the park serves as a vital weapon for Germany in retaining control of games. Kimmich may also play a key role in offering creativity using his set-piece deliveries.
Defensively, Jonas Hofmann should retain his place in the side, starting at right-back. On the opposite flank, Thilo Kehrer might get the nod ahead of both David Raum and Robin Gosens due to tactical reasons, as the defensive prowess of PSG star offers more balance in the German defence, led by the central defenders in Antonio Rudiger and Niklas Sule.
Things do get interesting in the final third, though, as Flick has multiple options to choose from. Jamal Musiala and Kai Havertz are pushing for starts, but the current starters Serge Gnabry and Marco Reus both made a solid impression against Armenia.
Unfortunately, Reus has been ruled out with a knee injury, which means Musiala is now the favourite to start in the number ten role, with his Bayern Munich pal Gnabry out on the left-hand side. Kai Havertz may start on the right, ahead of Leroy Sane, as they look to provide supply for lone striker Timo Werner.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Neuer; Hofmann, Sule, Rudiger, Kehrer; Kimmich, Goretzka; Havertz, Musiala, Gnabry; Werner
- Hansi Flick has won his opening two games as coach of Hoffenheim, Bayern Munich and Germany, though he lost his third at Hoffenheim.
- Serge Gnabry has scored 18 goals in 28 games for Germany and has just one fewer than Marco Reus as the second-highest scorer in the current squad.
- Manuel Neuer is Germany’s most-capped current player with 105 caps.
- Jonas Hofmann scored his first Germany goal on his fifth appearance for the national team against Armenia.
- This is the fourth time these two nations meet, with Germany having won two and drawn the other.
Player to Watch
What a hit! 💥
Jonas Hofmann scores his first Germany goal in style! 🚀 pic.twitter.com/Kk5nWAAE9n
— Sky Sports Football (@SkyFootball) September 5, 2021
Jonas Hofmann turned a lot of heads with his performance at right-back, in the last game against Armenia. He was heavily involved in Germany’s attacking moves and made a solid impression. In fact, some even claim him to be an upgrade over Gosens as the Gladbach man is far more superior when it comes to the technical aspect of his game.
Such qualities will be put to the test once again when Hofmann faces Iceland, making him the player worth keeping an eye on in this exciting encounter. For his part, the former Dortmund star will be hoping to constantly offer support to the attackers. His ability to pass in between the lines, coupled with an excellent technical prowess does indeed make him a real weapon down the right for Die Mannschaft.
Germany 3-0 Iceland
This is not an easy game to predict as Iceland can be very unpredictable. But the newfound belief in the Germany squad under Hansi Flick is certain to give the visitors the oomph they need to come out as clear victors in this crucial clash, with the likes of Musiala, Hofmann and Gnabry likely to dominate the game once again.
For Iceland, it will be key to resist the early pressure from the opposition and make it difficult for them to settle in. They certainly have more athleticism than the Armenians on the weekend, so we are expecting a more respectable scoreline this time around.