Group D: Iceland – World Cup Betting Odds & Tips
The recent rise of Icelandic football has been remarkable and this summer will see them become the smallest nation by population to play at the World Cup. A policy of careful planning and sensible investment has characterised their rise and two years ago they caused one of the biggest shocks in the game’s history as they knocked England out of Euro 2016.
They then proved it was anything but a fluke by coming through a qualifying group for the World Cup which also included Croatia, Ukraine and Turkey. A quick look at their squad list tells you that this is very much a team built on organisation and solidarity.
The Strakarnir okkar’s current crop are mainly made up of players who either ply their trade domestically or in other Scandinavian countries.
They do have quality though, with Burnley’s Johan Berg Gudmundsson and Everton’s Gylfi Sigurdsson their standout players, while Emil Hallfredsson is also a regular in Udinese’s midfield. As they showed in France, Iceland are likely to build their team around solid foundations, with Heimir Hallgrimsson following on from the work he and Lars Lagerback put in place before the Swede stepped down as boss in 2016.
The aforementioned Sigurdsson will still be relied on to produce some magic and his form woes since joining the Toffees in the summer are undoubtedly a cause for concern.
Argentina are their first Group D opponents in Moscow, in a game they are the 9.50 underdogs to win, with the draw 4.40 and La Albiceleste 1.36. They then take on Nigeria in Volgagrad and Croatia in Rostov-on-Don and are 11.00 to top the pool.
Iceland’s size as a population makes them easy to write off and they are sure to be the subject of plenty of patronising tones in the build-up to the tournament. However, as England found out two years ago, this is a group of players who cannot be taken for granted.