What went wrong for England against Iceland?

England’s preparation for the Euros ended in the worst way, with a dismal 1-0 defeat to Iceland at Wembley.

Here’s the big talking points from the night, and what went wrong for Gareth Southgate’s side…

Worrying signs in defence and attack

This was a strong England side that was more than capable of comfortably beating an inferior Iceland team, but instead this performance brought back memories of that famous upset in 2016 when Roy Hodgson’s side were knocked out of the Euros.

England set out on the front foot early on but were caught out by a brilliantly worked counter-attack from the away side which ended with Jon Dagur Thorsteinsson firing low past Aaron Ramsdale, who should really have kept it out. But the lack of intensity and aggression in the press which led to the goal was also to blame. It was not the only time Iceland breached the England back-line either, with there being too many gaps and too much space for the away side to attack on a few occasions.

The lead saw Iceland grow in confidence and England really struggled against their deep block, with so many attacking moves in the final third breaking down because of a poor touch or attempted pass. Harry Kane did spurn a golden chance to equalise just before the half-hour mark but for much of the game England really lacked the cutting edge to get in behind a well drilled Iceland back-line. Given that Southgate’s side will be faced with a similar task in their group games, it is a very worrying sign indeed.

Foden’s off night

After being named the Football Writers’ Association player of the season following a fine individual campaign which saw him score 27 goals in all competitions for Manchester City, there has been real excitement about what Phil Foden can do for England in the Euros this summer.

But this lacklustre display with the start of the tournament just around the corner is not what England fans want to see. Given the opportunity in the number 10 role in the absence of Jude Bellingham, Foden had one of his worst games in a while and often seemed to be on a different wavelength to his team-mates with a few misplaced passes and crosses. He tried to make things happen but England will need a lot more from him when the tournament does start if they are to have any hope of making it to the latter stages.

England too content to play short and slow

Whether it was because of the desire to keep fresh with the Euros just around the corner and avoid injury, the flat atmosphere inside Wembley, a lack of familiarity between the players in the starting line-up, or a combination of different things, England’s contentment with playing short passes between themselves instead of having a run at the Iceland back-line more often or trying a more direct ball from the back cost them.

It was all too predictable for Iceland, whose well organised defensive unit dealt admirably with the majority of the danger England did pose. Southgate’s side have to have more dimensions to their game, or risk this sort of thing happening again when the real competition starts. Starting Trent Alexander-Arnold, with his passing ability, in midfield would help.

Boos at Wembley

The atmosphere inside Wembley was really flat, with very few chants and a lack of impetus being generated from those in attendance. But the crowd did make their feelings known at both the end of first half and, more noticeably, at the end of the game, when boos rang out around the stadium following this humiliating defeat. This was the worst thing that could happen for this young England group heading into the tournament, with the importance of unity crucial if they are going to have a really good run in the tournament. Instead of unity, however, there is discontent.

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