Aside from a 2012 friendly, England’s only other meeting with Iceland came in 1982 in a World Cup warm-up match. England could only manage a 1-1 draw, with a goal from Paul Goddard.
Iceland were the only team, along with Spain, to start with the same line-up in all three of their group games.
Alfred Finnbogason will be back on the bench after missing the win against Austria through suspension.
Iceland’s debut at a major tournament has turned into a fairytale. The fact they were unbeaten after the group stage is probably the biggest upset so far.
Wayne Rooney – who will equal David Beckham’s record for most caps for an outfield player (115) if he plays – is almost certain to regain his position in the starting line-up, as is Dele Alli, who came on as a substitute against Slovakia.
Here’s what the England captain had to say about the upcoming game.
“If we get that goal, an early goal against Iceland, they will have to come out at us which could suit us as well,” said Rooney to the media.
“It depends how it goes on the day, but we feel that we’re a good team and can play against teams who want to defend or teams who want to come and have a go at us.
“We feel we can change our game to plan for whichever team we play, and everyone knows it’s the business end of the tournament and we have to be more ruthless to go through in games.
“Although I think we’ve dominated games, we haven’t looked like losing so that’s always a positive sign, but we have to make sure we take those chances.”
The Tottenham Hotspur duo of Danny Rose and Kyle Walker are expected to return at full-back but Harry Kane’s and Raheem Sterling’s positions are uncertain.
Iceland are a well-drilled side and have been backed by an impressive army of supporters. They had approximately 10,000 fans at their last two matches, which is around 3% of their total population. If England did the same, Nice’s stadium would have to have a stadium that accommodated roughly 1.6m Three Lions supporters.
Iceland have players with Premier League experience such as Gylfi Sigurdsson and Eidur Gudjohnsen and their other joint-manager, Lars Lagerback, was unbeaten in six meetings with England while coaching Sweden. Here’s what Sigurdsson had to say about the game.
“To play against England and to do it in the final 16? I’ve dreamed about this since I was a kid,” said Sigurdsson.
“It’s a very important game for the team and for the country as well. I’m playing against my former team‑mates in an international game, but more importantly I’m playing England in a last-16 game. To be at this stage with Iceland, with the chance to get to a quarter-final, is incredible. We’re full of excitement.”
He has been relatively quiet in Iceland’s matches so far, as the team has not kept much possession in midfield in their first three matches. He has lots of experience from playing in the Premier League with Swansea and Tottenham, and this could be his golden opportunity to shine.
Sigurdsson plays a different role with Iceland than with Swansea. His constant running in midfield and closing down opponents has been important, and Iceland fans are waiting for him to score from one of his dangerous free kicks. England will hope it’s not going to be in this game.
Victory for either team will book a quarter-final spot against hosts France.