Iceland vs. Scotland
The Anchor Man previews Wednesday's World Cup qualifier in Reykjavik.
After wilting in the heat in Macedonia on Saturday afternoon Scotland will be relishing a trip to the cooler climate of Reykjavik in what could be a make or break encounter, even at this early stage of qualification.
With just five teams in the group and the Netherlands and Norway still to come, George Burley’s aim of seventeen points to keep the Scots in with any chance of qualifying for a major tournament for the first time since 1998 will be looking very slim indeed if they leave Iceland without anything.
Burley has attempted to make the Scots difficult to breakdown since he took over in February yet their defence was thoroughly exposed by the Macedonians at the weekend and, bar a fine performance from Craig Gordon between the sticks, the defeat could have been far worse than the eventual 1-0 scoreline. An inexperienced midfield, without the inspirational captain Barry Ferguson, simply looked overawed by the occasion and could never get into the game.
With the Scottish midfield toiling in the heat, James McFadden, the main creative spark in Burley’s side, was starved of any possession and they never looked like breaching Macedonia’s defence. The Birmingham man will be the key once again against Iceland, particularly with Kenny Miller a doubt for the game, being the only player within the Scottish squad to have reached double figures in international goals.
Iceland will go into the fixture full of confidence as they twice came from behind to take a very good point from Norway in Oslo at the weekend. However, they have been plagued by inconsistency in their recent qualification campaigns, with defeats at home coming against the likes of Wales, Belarus and Latvia, that they cannot be relied upon to repeat such a resilient performance.
Scotland cannot afford another defeat at this early stage yet they will have to be a far more solid in Reykjavik than they were at the weekend if they are to maintain their faint chances of qualifying for the World Cup. So much of the Scots’ recent success was built around a 4-5-1 formation so it would be no surprise to see McFadden dropped into the left of midfield, where he could have a far greater influence on the game, and the extra numbers should give Burley’s troops more of a presence.
With Iceland unlikely to yield an inch at home there looks to be very little between the two sides and I would expect the first goal to the deciding one. Which team is likely to do so looks difficult to predict however and anything like the 1.70 currently on offer about the under 2.5 goals should be snapped up.
Back Under 2.5 goals LOST
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