FIFA World Cup: Iceland vs Croatia preview


Iceland are hoping to qualify from the group stage on their first ever World Cup participation, but they would need to beat Croatia at Rostov Arena on Tuesday. The two teams have met in World Cup qualification matches quite frequently during the past thirteen years and Croatia have won four of those six matches. They were in the same qualification group for the 2018 World Cup as well, Croatia won 2-0 at home and lost 1-0 away as Iceland finished at the top of the group with a two-point advantage.

Iceland started their first ever World Cup final tournament with a great performance and a 1-1 draw against Argentina, but then they were unable to replicate that display and deservedly lost 2-0 to Nigeria. That result leaves them with a single option for qualification: victory over Croatia, coupled with a narrow win for Argentina over Nigeria. However, they would need to play a whole lot better than they did against Nigeria to beat Croatia. Johann Berg Gudmundsson is still out of contention due to a calf problem.

Croatia are one of the most in-form teams at the 2018 World Cup, they started with a 2-0 victory against Nigeria and then hammered Argentina 3-0 to secure qualification to the round of sixteen with a game to spare. The Croatians can remain at the top of Group D even if they lose against Iceland, as long as Nigeria don't beat Argentina by a significant margin. With that in mind, head coach Zlatko Dalic will surely make quite a few changes in his starting eleven in order to rest some of his key players.

Probable line-ups:

Iceland: Halldorsson - Saevarsson, Arnason, R. Sigurdsson, Magnusson - Gislason, Gunnarsson, Hallfredsson, Bjarnason - G. Sigurdsson - Finnbogason

Croatia: Kalinic - Jedvaj, Corluka, Vida, Pivaric - Badelj, Brozovic - Pjaca, Kovacic, Perisic - Kramaric

My prediction: 1-1 draw, Croatia should be able to hold off Iceland even with a changed starting eleven.

Here are the odds for the match at Bet365:

Iceland win - 3.50
Draw - 3.40
Croatia win - 2.25

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