Iceland vs Croatia – Tuesday, June 26, 19:00BST/20:00CEST/21:00 MSK – Rostov-Arena, Rostov, Russia
Iceland’s World Cup campaign hangs in the balance when they face Croatia on Tuesday. After an inspirational 1-1 draw against Argentina on matchday 1 the Icelandic national team were dismantled by Nigeria on matchday 2 losing the match 2-0.
The defeat means that Iceland have to beat Croatia and hope that Argentina beat Nigeria with a smaller goal difference or that the match ends in a draw. Given Iceland’s trouble when it comes to scoring goals, it appears to be an almost impossible task to get past this high-flying Croatia side.
“We have always been able to fight back and do the impossible”, Gylfi Sigurdsson told the media following the defeat against Nigeria. “I don’t think it will change anything that we’ve beaten them a year ago, or lost to them three years ago. It’s going to be a completely different match. But of course, it’s great that we’ve shown that we can beat them. They’re hard to break down and strong, both offensively and defensively. But we’ve got nothing to lose. It rests on us to get a good result, and then we’re hoping for a favourable result from the other match,” Sigurdsson added.
Croatia, in the meantime, have been urged by Nigeria to get the job done and not slack off in their final match. Croatia head coach Zlatko Dalić has announced that he is going to rest some key players in the match against Iceland in order to rest key players and avoid suspensions.
“I don’t think it’s the best thing to do,” John Obi Mikel said in an interview with Goal. “This is a massive tournament – you can’t rest people and give others a chance of qualification”, he added.
Despite Nigeria’s calls for sportsmanship Croatia’s reaction is understandable. Furthermore, Dalić should still be able to field a highly competitive side for the match. Croatia have one of the deepest squads in the tournament and rotating the starting eleven makes sense to fight discontent among the players in the team. Furthermore, even with a rotated side, Croatia should have enough to beat Iceland on Tuesday.
Iceland vs Croatia – Players to look out for:
Gylfi Sigurdsson #10 – Iceland (Everton)
Gylfi Sigurdsson is the star in a team without stars. Iceland very much defines itself through teamwork and as being a closed knit group. But Sigurdsson’s talent and his excellent shooting technique make him the one player that stands out a bit of the group. Sigurdsson has thus far failed to make an impact, however, and will have to up his game when Iceland have it all to play for in their final match against Croatia.
Ivan Perišić #4 – Croatia (Inter Milan)
Ivan Perišić was one of the outstanding players in Croatia’s 3-0 victory over Argentina. The Inter Milan winger is a special talent but at times seems to waste his talent. Playing in Italy at a club like Inter Milan Perišić has somewhat disappeared from the spotlight. The World Cup in Russia, however, has served fans and pundits as a reminder that Perišić could be a top performer at one of Europe’s biggest clubs.
Iceland vs Croatia – Match Stats
- Iceland and Croatia will be facing each other for the seventh time. All their previous encounters have taken place at the qualification stage.
- The two teams last met at the qualification stage of the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Croatia won their home match 2-0 and Iceland theirs 1-0.
- For the first time since 1998 Croatia have managed to win two games in a row at a World Cup.
Futbolgrad Network Prediction: Iceland vs Croatia – 0-3
Iceland vs Croatia – Lineups
Halldorsson – Skulason, Ragnar Sigurdsson, Arnason, Eyolfsson – Gylfi Sigurdsson, Hallfredsson – Bjarnason, Gudmundsson – Sigurdason, Finnbogason
Head Coach: Heimir Hallgrimsson
Subašić – Vrsaljko, Lovren, Vida, Strinić – Kovačić, Badelj – Perišić, Rebić, Pjaca – Kramarić
Head Coach: Zlatko Dalić
Manuel Veth is the owner and Editor in Chief of the Futbolgrad Network. He also works as a freelance journalist and among others works for the Bundesliga and Pro Soccer USA. He holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which is available HERE. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.