Iceland vs Switzerland
It’s matchday four of six in Group A of the UEFA Nations League, and a nation known for being ice cool has revenge on its mind – and certainly lashings of pride.
A low point after two years of harmony naturally still hurts, and this encounter in Laugardalsvollur offers the ideal chance to restore some pride if nothing else.
UEFA Nations League 2018 news suggests Iceland will finish bottom of a group which also includes in-form Belgium.
But this is an opportunity to show the world they have not suddenly become the whipping boys of European football.
The Nordic nation may have had a fairly underwhelming stint at Russia 2018, but they are a team capable of upsetting even the giants and powerhouses of world football as they have proven over the past two years.
The thunderclap at home can be like a 12th man sometimes – just ask World Cup finalists Croatia who found out memorably last summer.
Iceland had a world ranking in the 130s four years ago. They are now ranked 36th, have become the smallest country to make a major football final, and are known for their exuberant approach to the game.
Not bad for a nation with a population of just 330,000 and fewer than 22,000 registered footballers.
One of them is their talisman, Everton’s Gylfi Sigurdsson, whose success has inspired this football-mad country to embrace the national team and ensure the unheralded squad is at the very heart of a nation.
Sigurdsson captained Iceland last week in the absence of Aron Einar Gunnarsson.
Across Merseyside in the English Premier League is arguably Switzerland’s main man.
Xherdan Shaqiri could well be the biggest thorn in Iceland’s side, along with goal-getter Haris Seferovic, although coach Vladimir Petkovic is likely to be without Johan Djourou, Kevin Mbabu and Admir Mehmedi.
It must not be forgotten, however, that just like Iceland, Switzerland hardly set the World Cup alight.
They managed to win just one of their four games on their way to a last-16 exit and, after the Iceland rout last month, went down to a 1-0 friendly defeat to England at Wembley.
Despite being pegged back late on, Iceland can take heart from their 2-2 draw with world champions France – a result which the Reykjavik Grapevine humorously, with tongue very much in cheek, claimed made the indomitable Vikings unofficial world champions!
Birkir Bjarnason and Kari Arnason goals put them within seconds of a stunning friendly victory, and Switzerland dare not be complacent if they take this form back home with them.
The Swiss themselves want to regain top spot in the group after battling hard but going down to a Romelu Lukaku double against Belgium yesterday – a defeat which will hurt having conceded so late.
They know anything other than a victory will make it extremely difficult to top a group, even against the Belgians who have just said farewell to their assistant manager Thierry Henry after Roberto Martinez’s number two decided to accept a job offer and become the new coach of AS Monaco.
Only 2,500 tickets are remaining for this game which suggests the Icelanders have maintained their interest and focus in the national team.
The two nations had never met until 1979.
That was the first of five straight Swiss victories over the small nation until a pulsating 4-4 draw in a World Cup qualifier in 2013 in which Iceland fought back from 4-1 down, thanks to a hat-trick from Johann Berg Gudmundsson.
That was their last meeting until last month’s rout in St Gallen.
|Iceland vs Switzerland||Over 2.75, Over Under @ 2.17|
|October 16, 2:45 (GMT+8)|
Switzerland are overwhelming favourites to complete a double over a side they trounced a month ago.
UEFA Nations 2018 betting odds see the Swiss priced 1X2 @ 1.65 with Iceland 1X2 out @ 4.50.
The draw offers an appealing @ 3.45.
Given the Nordic men are home, perhaps you fancy a punt on Iceland First Half 1X2 @ 4.80 or Switzerland 1X2 @ 2.26.
Asian Handicap has Iceland + 0.75 @ 1.97 and Switzerland -0.75 @ 1.87.
I do think goals are guaranteed in this one – even if Iceland have frustrated higher-ranking sides in the not too distant past.
Total Goals 4-6 @ 3.05 will tempt many of you; even the Double Chance Iceland or Draw @ 1.99 could persuade a few us punters.
An unlikely repeat of a rout is available also. Correct score Iceland 0-4 Switzerland will pay out @ 30.00.
|A SHORT EXPLANATION ON HOW OUR () BETS ARE WORTH:|
|= €20 (Highly confident)||= €10 (CONFIDENT)||= €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)|
Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.
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