Portugal VS Iceland Prediction
“Stade Geoffroy-Guichard” in Saint-Étienne welcomes its first Euro 2016 fixture when in Tuesday evening Iceland will make their debut against strong team of Portugal. Both teams are together in Group F where Austria and Hungary will meet earlier the same day, so virtually Iceland and Portugal will close the first round of the UEFA Euro 2016 group stage.
This will be third ever major football competition of which “Stade Geoffroy-Guichard” was chosen for one of the venues and it’s interesting to mention that for some reason ASSE’s stadium always hosts its first game on 14 June. That happened at the 1984 European Championsip (Romania vs Spain – 1:1), as well at the 1998 World Cup (Yugoslavia vs Iran – 1:0).
All player stats and team informations were taken by WhoScored.com
Portugal at Euro 2016 – Full squad available and huge contention
Portugal are considered for the main Group F favorite and this looks quite logical since “A Selecção” is the team that comes from Pot 1. Anyway, Fernando Santos’ men must be careful since Iceland already proved they can upset bigger names and “The Navigators” shouldn’t fly in the sky after the 7:0 win against Estonia in Wednesday evening. This will boost their morale with some extra confidence, no doubts, but still we can’t compare friendly match against Estonia with an Euro 2016 clash, against Iceland who are making their debut.
Fernando Santos surely knows this very well and our humble opinion is that if he wants to squeeze the maximum of his selection, then Santos must go beyond the dependence from Cristiano Ronaldo’s form. It’s always pure gold when you have such a player in your squad, but there weren’t only one or two examples what can happen when the team pretty much depends on one player.
In the qualifying campaign everything went very well and after the frustrating home defeat by Albania (still led by Paulo Bento), Portugal won their next seven games and thus finished on Group I’s top. Cristiano Ronaldo was with crucial role once again and he netted five of all 11 goals on Portugal’s Euro 2016 qualifying account.
Several months later Ronaldo will be under the spotlights and Real Madrid’s striker ended season 2015-2016 in a superb way, after winning the UEFA Champions League for second time in only three years and with two goals in Estonia’s net. Moreover, Cristiano Ronaldo will be keen of scoring on fourth consecutive European Championship as he scored in all previous competitions he took part in – Euro 2004, Euro 2008 and Euro 2012.
Even if we consider how vital Cristiano Ronaldo is, we can’t hide our impressions on the overall Portuguese look. As usual Portugal is one of the favorites in shadow and when you take a quick look at their selection, Portugal definitely comes with purpose in France and they seem to be one of the most balanced sides. With huge contention for each position, especially as it comes to the goalkeeping position, defense and midfield, where at least two players compete for each spot. Maybe Portugal’s attack seems to be most predictable and this mostly depends on their approach – will Fernando Santos start with the speedy trio formed by Nani, Ricardo Quaresma and Cristiano Ronaldo, or he may start with someone from between Rafa Silva and Éder.
In defense Vieirinha and Cédric Soares compete for starting position at the right back, while at the left back situation is similar – Eliseu and younger Raphaël Guerreiro are with chance to claim first-team football here.
Four players are in fierce contention for both centre-back positions where except Pepe (who looks as the most surest starter), three other players who are all aged over 32 are eager for perhaps their last Euro. Ricardo Carvalho (38), José Fonte (32) and Bruno Alves (34) are featuring in Portugal’s defensive selection and the advanced age of all their central defenders can be either huge advantage or a weakness.
Fernando Santos can pick between 4-4-2 or 4-3-3 formation and in each occasion he can name really strong midfield with some great young players, except the most experienced midfielder in current Portuguese squad João Moutinho. With his influence and skills, players like Renato Sanches, William Carvalho, João Mário, Adrien Silva, Danilo Pereira and André Gomes can all develop and they all propose huge diversity of talents for “The Selecção”.
Expectations are that Portugal will open their Euro 2016 quest with a 4-3-3 formation and the midfield trio should be formed by João Moutinho, with whose name Fernando Santos usually begins, João Mário and Danilo Pereira.
On the front line we expect trio involving Nani, Quaresma and Ronaldo, who all must comply with the expectations to scoring into Iceland’s net. Everything different than three points will be huge disappointment for Portugal and this may add some pressure, especially among the less experienced players. Here comes the role of all veterans who must lead the squad and show their impact over the future stars of Portugal football. Such kind of events are always a good stage to show your best skills and we do believe that Portugal realizes its favorite role here, but we exclude any type of underestimation.
Iceland at Euro 2016 – Team news and possible squad vs Portugal
Iceland is led by the experienced Lars Lagerbäck and his younger Icelandic colleague Heimir Hallgrímsson, who will succeed the team after Euro 2016. This will be one last lesson by the proficient Swedish coach who is mostly know with his work in Sweden’s national team. With Lagerbäck in charge, Sweden took part in three different European Championships (2000, 2008 and 2012) and his best record remains on Portuguese turf – when Sweden reached the quarter-finals of Euro 2004 and was dropped out of the competition without to lose a single game (they lost on penalties by the Netherlands).
Twelve years after that Portuguese summer won’t be with same tandem as he was with Tommy Söderberg, but he’ll be filled by the enthusiasm of domestic coach like Heimir Hallgrímsson. They both must find the most adequate fashion to stopping Cristiano Ronaldo, but this won’t be everything in that game. CR7 is only one of the dangers on the Icelandic radar and his presence on the field requires proper decisions by their management.
Here comes the question – will Iceland stick to the 4-4-2 formation (used in the 4:0 win against Liechtenstein for the last time) or they will be more cautious with five midfielders. Indeed, this seems to form the biggest question for Lars Lagerbäck and Heimir Hallgrímsson, but there are few more.
If we accept that Iceland will stick to its 4-4-2 formation (even if it’s a 4-4-1-1) the biggest doubt comes for the left midfielder position where Birkir Bjarnason and Emil Hallfreðsson are two of the options and they’re both among the most experienced names in Iceland’s squad.
Aron Gunnarsson is captain of the Icelandic team and he’ll have that privilege to lead the nation on their first ever significant show up after some long waiting. His position in central part of the midfield looks rock-solid and if Iceland begins with 2 strikers (respectively 4-4-2) formation, most likely their star and major Premier League player Gylfi Sigurðsson will operate next to the skipper. In other occasion, if Iceland starts with the 4-4-1-1, this will mean that Gylfi Sigurðsson can be behind the striker and there’s a chance for both of the above mentioned Birkir Bjarnason and Emil Hallfreðsson to being included in the starting eleven. This will happen if Emil Hallfreðsson starts next to Gunnarsson while Bjarnason can take his left wing role. However, these are only varieties and final decision should be taken by Iceland’s coaching stuff.
Their attack also looks decent where we have few well-known names on our sight. Kolbeinn Sigþórsson, Alfreð Finnbogason, Jón Daði Böðvarsson and veteran Eiður Guðjohnsen are all in contention for the starting positions there, so one of two of them may have the chance to start against Portugal and respectively taste from the Euro 2016 spirit.
Euro 2016: Portugal v Iceland – Possible lineups and betting tip
Everything different than three points for Portugal will come as perhaps the first biggest surprise on Euro 2016 and we’re sure that Fernando Santos recognizes that very well. He’ll need to be taking more risks against Iceland and if Portugal wants to meet all expectations, then they must push Iceland deep in their own half. This may take lots of their stamina and deep pressing is always particular challenge for the physical condition of your team. It will be interesting to see how fit and prepared are all Portuguese starts, coming after the long season in different top European football leagues. Can this make some difference here? Well, we must have one in mind that part of the Icelandic squad comes from some Scandinavian leagues (Swedish Allsvenskan and Norwegian Tippeligaen) where season starts in March/April and they should be much fresher than their Portuguese colleagues.
Of course, all well-known players in the Icelandic team play in different leagues like the EPL (and English football system at all), Serie A and German Bundesliga, but still, they can’t boast with the same number of games and heavy workload like most of the Portuguese players.
That’s why we prefer to stay away from the regular 1X2 odds and we’re tempted by another good value coming for “Over 2 Goals” between Portugal and Iceland. Like in the games between England vs Russia and Ireland vs Sweden, you’ll have your money back if the game ends with exactly two goals. Nevertheless, after all these “unders” in the first few Euro 2016 days, it’s time for more goals and we expect some in Saint-Étienne.
History of the meetings between Portugal and Iceland also predisposes such a bet. Of course, we can’t rely on their previous two matches which were 5-6 years ago and part of the Euro 2012 qualifying (5:3 in Portugal, 1:3 in Iceland – Porugal won in both matches), but we can also take it as a good sign for open football between both nations. “Over 2 Goals”.
Referee: Cüneyt Cakır from Turkey.
Assistant referees and fourth official: Bahattin Duran, Tarik Ongun (Turkey) and Carlos del Cerro Grande (Spain).
Venue: “Stade Geoffroy-Guichard” in Saint-Etienne.
Possible starting squads of Portugal and Iceland
Portugal: Rui Patrício – Cédric Soares, Pepe, Ricardo Carvalho, Raphaël Guerreiro – Danilo Pereira, João Moutinho, João Mário – Cristiano Ronaldo (c), Nani, Ricardo Quaresma. (4-3-3)
Iceland: Hannes Thor Halldórsson – Birkir Sævarsson, Ragnar Sigurðsson, Kári Arnason, Ari Skulason – Johann Gudmundsson, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Aron Gunnarsson (c), Emil Hallfredsson – Alfred Finnbogason, Kolbeinn Sigthórsson. (4-4-2)
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