Today’s Predictions: Iceland vs Croatia
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The 40th match of the 2018 FIFA World Cup sees high-flying Croatia take on a spirited Icelandic side, still with a chance of qualifying in this group.
- Date : 26th June 2018
- Time : 11:30 PM (IST)
- Venue : Rostov-on-Don Stadium
As the group comes to an end, there is still a lot to play for as Iceland still have a good chance of qualifying provided they can beat Croatia by a healthy margin.
FIFA World Cup Qualification
Croatia had a decent qualifying phase, where the overall quality of their midfield was the primary reason that they managed to finish second behind Iceland in the group, to set up a play-off tie against Greece. The Croats won that play-off comfortably, enhancing their reputation as play-off specialists as the final score read 4-1.
Iceland had a relatively easier time during the qualifying phase. Grouped with Croatia and Turkey, their best hope before the qualifiers began was to secure a playoff spot. However, their players never lost hope and continued fighting till the penultimate match day, where a stunning 3-0 upset over Turkey ensured that they top their group
Croatia have been going through a mixed run of form in recent months, with 3 wins and 2 defeats in their last 6 matches. They secured an impressive away victory against Mexico in tough conditions, to prove their mettle away from home as well, but were soon humbled by Brazil a week later. They were looking to re-organize before the tournament starts to make full use of the undisputed talent at their disposal, and that’s exactly what they did as they convincingly won their opening game. They followed that up with a stunning win over Argentina to top their group.
Iceland have been in poor form of late. Despite a healthy qualifying campaign where they topped their group, they have managed just 1 win in their last 6 matches, that too against Indonesia. Consecutive defeats against Mexico, Peru and Norway have put their World Cup credentials in doubt.
World Cup So Far
Iceland shocked the world with a brilliant 1-1 draw against Argentina, despite falling behind to a Sergio Aguero goal early on. They never gave up and earned a credible draw to show that they are more than capable of playing against the top sides in the world. However, in the very next game they were beaten convincingly by Nigeria to throw this group wide open.
Croatia looked dominant from the first minute against a decent Nigerian side, and cruised to a comfortable 2-0 victory to take sport in the group. In their second game, they produced arguably their biggest performance in history to completely dismantle giants Argentina 3-0.
Head To Head Record
These two nations have met 6 times before, with Croatia winning 4 of them while Iceland won the most recent fixture 1-0 in 2017.
Croatia have a fully fit squad to choose from, with Ivan Rakitic also brushing off his injury scare. They tend to pack the midfield and then play with a sole target man, a tactic which has seen them fend of sides much bigger than them in recent times. Many of their players play for some of the biggest clubs in world football, and would be targeting a deep run in this year’s World Cup.
Iceland have a few injury troubles themselves. Star man Gylfi Sigurdsson has declared himself fit but is still coming back after a lengthy knee injury. Their star forward in the successful Euro 2016 campaign, Kolbeinn Sigthorsson has been ruled out as he has been struggling since September 2016. Their captain, Aron Gunnarsson is also a doubt with a minor knee injury.
Players To Watch Out For
Croatia have one of the most talented midfields in Europe, with Real Madrid pair Luka Modric and Mateo Kovacic pulling the strings behind Barcelona’s Ivan Rakitic and Inter pair Perisic and Brozovic. With a front 3 of Mandzukic, Kalinic and Kramaric, Croatia have the potential to cause massive upsets in this tournament. Dejan Lovren and Corluka are the big names in defence.
Iceland have pretty much got the same squad which led them to an incredible run at Euro 2016. Their best player is Gylfi Siggurdson, one of the most talented midfielders in the Premier League, and he would again be looking to play a decisive part. Alfred Finnbogason is also a vital cog in their attack.
Croatia Vs Iceland Betting Odds And Key Statistics
- Croatia are slight favourites in this match, after a dominating run in the tournament so far.
- Croatia’s David Suker won the golden boot at the 1998 World Cup, as the team won 5 matches. In contrast, they scored 6 goals in the group stages at the 2014 World Cup but still could not make it past the group stage.
- Iceland are playing in their first ever FIFA World Cup, and their excellent showing at Euro 2016 where they beat England to reach the quarters, has made people stand up and notice them each time they turn out to play.
- Croatia’s midfield is arguably the best in the world currently , with Luka Modric a top contender for the Golden Ball if his form continues.
- Iceland have a strong defence but do not score many goals. Hence, we recommend betting on the under 2.5 goals market, and the both teams not to score market
With Croatia having already qualified, they may rest players for this clash. However, we still expect them to be too strong to beat this Icelandic side, which was easily beaten by Nigeria.
Our Predicted Scoreline: Iceland 0 – 2 Croatia