Roy Hodgson is set to make six changes to his England team for the second match in succession as the Three Lions bid to break down Iceland’s ‘Blue Wall’.
Among the horde being parachuted in this time is the underperforming Raheem Sterling, a move that is sure to exasperate a large portion of supporters who lost patience with the forward after a substandard showing against Wales.
The Manchester City youngster was hooked midway through said match after an underwhelming 45 minutes against the Dragons followed his vapid effort in the preceding fixture versus Russia.
Despite this, widespread reports indicate Sterling will replace Adam Lallana in the starting XI, beginning on the left side of a three-man attack for a game England are rated 12/25 to win.
Upset-hunting punters can back Iceland to win at 33/4, while it’s 13/4 they advance via any means and there’s a plump 10/1 on offer about penalty-shootout progression for Lars Lagerback’s men.
The appeal of these sizeable prices is brought about by the fact that the tournament debutants are yet to lose a match in France.
Resilient and robust, the Scandinavians have proved adept saturators of opposition possession, limiting each of their three adversaries to a solitary goal apiece, which their ruthlessness in the final third ultimately negated.
With four group-stage goals, Iceland actually proved the more incisive attacking outfit in reaching this point, so ensuring the rearguard is well-manned throughout will be key for England avoiding an upset.
At the other end, to prise the underdog’s defence apart, speed will be paramount and, while he may lack in end product, Sterling has gas in abundance.
With Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani starting up front against Iceland, Portugal fashioned 26 attempts on goal. The former Manchester United duo took aim a combined 15 times, with the latter getting on the scoresheet.
In terms of similarities in style, it’s Sterling, Dele Alli and Daniel Sturridge (both in line to start in Nice too) who most closely resemble the Portuguese twosome within the Three Lions’ camp. They’re all quick, skilful and willing to run with the ball, with a shared average of 2.6 dribblers per match placing them inside the 20 most frequent orb-carriers left in the competition.
Portugal’s direct approach saw them create numerous opportunities against Iceland and recalling Sterling will give England the best chance of doing the same.
It’s 7/2 that he scores at any point tonight.