England (-192) vs Iceland (+650), Draw (+260)
Iceland (1-0-2) have already had a dream Euro, going undefeated in the Group Stage and reaching the Round of 16. They’ll hope their Cinderella story doesn’t shatter like a glass slipper this Monday when they take on England (1-2-0) at the Allianz Riviera in Nice (3:00 PM Eastern, June 27).
The tiny nation of 300,000 has played great in the tournament, drawing Portugal (1-1) and Hungary (1-1) in their first two fixtures before a history win over Austria (2-1). They have lost the possession battle in every match, but have capitalized on their opportunities and seem to be gaining confidence with every game.
They’re not likely to have much possession against the English, either, so they’ll have to keep up their strong defensive play and opportunistic counterattack.
If there’s one thing you can be sure of, it’s that the Icelandic team won’t be in awe of the Three Lions. Iceland beat the Netherlands during the Euro qualifiers and already drew Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portuguese side in this tournament. It’s safe to say the intimidation factor doesn’t work against these Viking descendents.
England had a perfect run during the Euro qualifiers, going 10-0, but they haven’t shown the same level in the current tournament. They drew against Russia (1-1) and Slovakia (0-0) and needed an injury-time goal to beat Wales (2-1).
The biggest problem for manager Roy Hodgson has come on the offensive side. He’s struggling to successfully implement Jamie Vardy and Harry Kane upfront, and the England midfield isn’t giving the team’s strikers much help.
Hodgson doesn’t get all the blame. After all, he’s working with a young roster that lacks major tournament experience. That said, England’s youth certainly hasn’t tempered the hopes and expectations of the old guard.
“We don’t just want to get to the quarter-finals,” veteran striker Wayne Rooney told the Guardian. “You don’t play for the achievement of getting to a quarter-final. What would I, and the other players, get out of that? We want to win it. That’s the aim. I am not going to sit here and say: ‘We’ve got some good young players so we’ll be happy to get to the quarter-finals, the future’s bright’ and all that. We are here, and we want to win it.”
If the Group Stage is any indication, Iceland will make this game difficult for England. But, at the end of the day, they’re going to be overmatched. England’s less-than-prolific offense won’t turn this one into a rout, but they should win by a goal.
(Photo Credit: Ben Sutherland (Flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/].)