A win is a win and England got the job done in Iceland, but the late drama masked what was a rather dull and uninspired display. Kyle Walker has a mountain to climb to get back into the reckoning now following his dismissal, with heavy competition at right back, while Iceland’s missed penalty at the death let the Three Lions off the hook.
Phil Foden’s debut will be a positive for Gareth Southgate, though the midfielder and fellow youngster Mason Greenwood – who both made their debuts on Saturday – have been ejected from the camp after breaching quarantine rules. Meanwhile, James Ward-Prowse doesn’t appear to be the answer to England’s midfield conundrum and they’ll require better creativity to unlock Denmark’s backline.
The hosts suffered a 2-0 defeat against group favourites Belgium, who were only able to kill the game off with a second goal 15 minutes from time. Although the Danes offered virtually nothing going forwards, they’re not a side that concedes too many goals and subsequently, they’re very difficult to take all three points from.
Indeed, prior to this latest result and excluding a 3-0 defeat to Slovakia in September 2018 (where a second-string team was fielded owing to a dispute between the players and the Danish FA), the Scandinavian outfit had won 17 of 34 unbeaten matches over 90 minutes since late 2016.
It should be noted however that Denmark have been rather fortunate to avoid true heavyweights in their past few years. First, they finished five points behind Poland in qualification for the 2018 World Cup. In that tournament itself, they played France in their final group game, but Les Bleus only needed a point from that fixture to secure first place and rested the likes of Paul Pogba and Kylian Mbappe. The Danes were then knocked out on penalties by Croatia in the first knockout round, overcame struggling Welsh and Irish outfits in the Nations League, before yet again being handed a kind draw in the recent European qualifiers as they finished second behind Switzerland.
Denmark do have a solid spine to their team, but the lack of really testing opposition suggests that they could come undone here. Belgium had the chances to score more goals and England should forge some opportunities of their own, even if not so many as Belgium were able to fashion. England have now won 10 of their last 13 matches over 90 minutes, as two of the exceptions came in the semi-finals and third-place final in the inaugural Nations League.
This should be a low-scoring affair however. England came up against a compact Iceland side and can expect more of the same here. The absence of a left-sided full-back saw Kieran Trippier cutting inside onto his right foot into congested areas, while pacey options Jadon Sancho and Raheem Sterling will have little space to run in behind the defence. England should have the quality to prevail, but they may have to be patient to make the breakthrough.
England @ 11/10
Under 2.5 Goals @ 4/5