Iceland make the short trip to Finland this weekend in a bid to strengthen their chances of qualifying for next year’s World Cup finals in Russia, with the Euro 2016 surprise package having made an excellent start to their campaign. Their opponents have had no such luck, registering just a single point from their six matches.
World Cup 2018 Qualifying – Tampere Stadium, Tampere – Saturday 2nd September – 17:00 UK Time
Iceland are looking to qualify for the World Cup finals for the first time in their history, making them the favourites to defeat Finland in Tampere this weekend. Head Coach Heimir Hallgrímsson has turned his group of players into a team that can match anyone on their day, with only Croatia ahead of them in the Group I standings. Meanwhile, with Finland perhaps going through their worst ever period on the international stage, the pressure is on Markku Kanerva to start delivering results.
Finland Team News & Form
Finland’s only point in qualifying so far came against minnows Kosovo back in September, with defeats to the likes of the likes of Croatia and Ukraine following. Despite their chances of qualifying having long been over, Finland will be looking to get one over on their rivals this weekend, helping to ensure that they do not finish rock bottom of the standings in the process. However, having scored just four goals from their six matches to date, the chances of victory seem slim at present.
Iceland Team News & Form
Having famously defeated England in the Euro 2016 knockout stages last summer, Iceland have picked up where they left off during qualifying, having dropped just five points to date. With group leaders Croatia expected to win comfortably against Kosovo, a win positive result for Iceland is a must, with both Turkey and Ukraine hoping to capitalise on any slip-ups from the visitors. A large amount of the Iceland playing squad are based in England, including star man and new Everton signing Gylfi Sigurdsson, as well as Captain Aron Gunnarsson and Birkir Bjarnason of Aston Villa. Iceland also have a hugely experienced squad, with eight having earned 50 caps or more. Despite having conceded an average of a goal per game during qualifying, Iceland are a team that are difficult to beat.
Head to Head
The two teams have eleven times in the past, with Finland having won six of these encounters. However, their last victory came back in 2003, with Iceland having come out on top when the duo met in qualifying back in October, winning by a scoreline of 3-2.
Betting Odds and Predictions
With Finland seen as the outsiders for victory, the majority of bookmakers have them at long odds to claim three points. William Hill, one of the best bookmakers for football, offer customers odds of 7/2 for the home side to come out on top on Saturday, while punters can back Iceland to win at odds of 1/1 at the same platform.
Elsewhere, backing both teams to score could well be worth considering, with neither side having excelled in defence throughout qualifying. Ladbrokes offer odds of 11/10 for this market, with the same bookmakers also offering odds of 6/4 for Gylfi Sigurdsson to score at any point during the 90 minutes.
Top Betting Tip
Our top betting tip for the match is to bet on an Iceland victory, which can be found at best odds of 1/1 at Ladbrokes.