Iceland VS Turkey Prediction
Iceland and Turkey are set for their third 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying match, coming just few days after they have both been involved in dramatic comebacks during matchday 2. On Thursday evening, 6 October 2016, both sides were playing their home matches where Turkey won a point after being in losing position against Ukraine, while Iceland made really impressive turn and gained full number of points from Finland. Thus the UEFA Euro 2016 surprise Iceland enters in matchday 3 as a group I runner up as Heimir Hallgrímsson’s men share same record with Croatia, but they have worse goal difference. Turkey on its hand travels to the North after two draws and that’s relatively good achievement, if we consider Turks were those who were trailing on both occasions.
Iceland vs Turkey – Team News and Match Preview
Fatih Terim picked its squad without some notable players who were all part of their UEFA Euro 2016 roster, while others haven’t been called up after the 1-1 draw against Croatia in Turkey’s first qualifier. Actually Turks can be pleased by final score in Zagreb since hosts were dominating and they can regret for the lack of efficiency and finishing in that game. A month later Turkey achieved second draw that came against another top position pretenders – Ukraine. Match at the “Konya Büyükşehir Torku Arena” started in worst possible way for Turkey and they were losing 0-2 after only 27 minutes. However, we saw great character by the Turks and final score was 2-2, inspired by another vital effort of Bayer Leverkusen’s player Hakan Calhanoglu. The 22-year-old attacking midfielder has been directly involved in each goal scored by Turkey in the qualifying – scoring equalizers against Croatia and Ukraine, as well as assisting for Ozan Tufan’s goal vs Ukraine.
Iceland started its 2018 FIFA World Cup quest with a journey to Ukraine where Heimir Hallgrímsson’s men were lucky to grab a point, since Yevhen Konoplyanka missed a penalty in 83rd minute, thus score remained 1-1. In a fact this is a good result for Iceland since it was their first match after the 2-5 loss by France at the UEFA Euro 2016 quarter-finals, as well as first individual match for coach Heimir Hallgrímsson who remains independently on the duty after Lars Lagerbäck’s retirement.
We had more magic Icelandic magic last Thursday when they faced another Nordic opposition and that 3-2 victory against Finland came in stoppage time. Result on half-time was 1-2 and Finland were extremely close to squeeze all the points from Reykjavík, especially when Gylfi Sigurdsson missed a penalty in 51st minute. Well, exactly in a moment when no one was expecting Iceland can win that game Alfred Finnbogason and Ragnar Sigurdsson found their names on the right positions, respectively in 90th and 95th minutes. Another remarkable moment for Icelandic football and entire nation dreams for its first ever World Cup participation, after living the European Championship dream in summer of 2016.
Iceland vs Turkey – Betting Prediction and Possible Lineups
Iceland and Turkey will be spurred by the spirit shown last round and these two nations don’t have much secrets when they have to play against each other, since they already have some head-to-head experience. Most of it dates from the 80’s and 90’s, but their latest meetings were back in the UEFA Euro 2016 qualifying when both nations swapped a home win – 3:0 for Iceland in September 2014, followed by a narrow success for Turkey from one year ago.
Turkey have won just two of nine previous meetings with Iceland and both were at home. So basically Iceland will rely to their strong home performances and fact they’re still unbeaten by Turkish team at home turf – four wins and just one draw. Moreover, they haven’t lost a competitive home match since more than three years when they suffered 2-4 defeat by Slovenia in the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying. It was followed by seven wins and three draws, making Iceland one really battle-worthy side, especially at their own home.
Unfortunately Heimir Hallgrímsson must find a way to extend that superb streak without Iceland’s captain Aron Gunnarsson, who’s suspended, as well as without injured striker of Turkish Galatasaray – Kolbeinn Sigthorsson.
Hallgrimsson can choose from between Jón Dadi Bödvarsson, Vidar Örn Kjartansson and even Björn Bergmann Sigurdarson, who was in starting lineup against Finland, for a partner of Alfred Finnbogason on top of Icelandic 4-4-2 formation. Bigger question is who can be an adequate replacement of Icelandic skipper Gunnarsson and most reliable choice at that moment seems to be midfielder of Italian Serie A Udinese – Emil Hallfredsson. Anyway, he missed match against Finland (wasn’t in the group) due to an injury, but rumours are he should be ready to start against Turkey. Otherwise someone from Ólafur Ingi Skúlason or Rúnar Már Sigurjónsson must fill the gap next to Gylfi Sigurdsson in heart of Icelandic midfield.
Turkey travels for Iceland without names of Gökhan Gönül, Selcuk Inan, Arda Turan and goal scorer Burak Yilmaz, who haven’t been called since the poor performance in France. Other players who were named in squad for Croatia are also out of contention – central defender Serdar Aziz, left-back Hasan Kaldirim, midfielder Nuri Sahin and winger Gökhan Töre.
This opens space for players like Kaan Ayhan and Tolga Cigerci, who have both been used as substitutions on half-time against Ukraine and left good impressions with their appearances. Ayhan replaced Hakan Balta as Ömer Toprak’s centre-back partner, while Tolga Cigerci came on Enes Ünal’s position. That was a clear tactical rotation and we expect same formation used in second half against Ukraine, than the 4-4-2 used by Fatih Terim in first-half of the match.
Final conclusion and Betting Tip
Both coaches will make some changes in their starting lineups and whether they’re forced or for tactical reasons, it’s certain they’ll refresh the squads.
Iceland will be glad to stay at home while Turkey will have to cover distance from around 4,000 kms after match against Ukraine. One of the small benefits which Iceland holds, besides their home advantage.
Turkey remain unbeaten after the 0-3 to Spain in Nice and since then, they somehow manage to avoid defeat in both qualifiers so far. Fatih Terim will strive to get Heimir Hallgrímsson into its trap and he’ll use his experience, that’s out of question. However, we’re sure that Hallgrimsson learned a lot from his mutual work with experienced personality like Swedish coach Lars Lagerbäck and he can rate the circumstances. It’s true that Iceland must aim to win its home matches if they want to stand a chance for booking tickets to Russia, but they must also be careful enough. Especially when captain Aron Gunnarsson is ruled out.
Asian Handicap 0 on Iceland – we find good value in a bet for the home side, but with proper insurance. Since yesterday odds for a home win are jumping but we still expect better football by Iceland here. Playing in their own land, in their own environment and specific weather conditions.
Venue: “Laugardalsvöllur”, Reykjavik.
Referee: Mark Clattenburg from England.
Possible starting lineups of Iceland and Turkey
Iceland: Ögmundur Kristinsson – Ari Freyr Skúlason, Ragnar Sigurdsson, Kári Árnason, Birkir Már Saevarsson – Birkir Bjarnason, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Emil Hallfredsson, Johann Berg Gudmundsson – Vidar Örn Kjartansson, Alfred Finnbogason. (4-4-2)
Turkey: Volkan Babacan – Caner Erkin, Kaan Ayhan, Ömer Toprak, Sener Özbayrakli – Tolga Cigerci, Mehmet Topal – Volkan Sen, Ozan Tufan, Hakan Calhanoglu – Cenk Tosun. (4-2-3-1)