On Friday night, Iceland and France go head-to-head in what could prove to be a massive game in Group H of qualifying for next years European Championships.
Iceland (Odds of 15/2 for victory)
The home side are once again punching above their weight in the international game. The Nordic nation are currently third in Group H, just three points behind both second-place France and shock group leaders Turkey. A victory in this clash could be pivotal to securing an automatic qualification spot.
Iceland have won four of their six group games so far but lost the reverse fixture 4-0 in Paris. They also suffered what could be a campaign defining 4-2 defeat in Turkey last time out.
The defeat means that the Nordic team have a highly inconsistent record in European Championship qualifying of late, winning five of their 11 qualifiers. However, they did make it to the quarter-finals of Euro 2016, only to suffer a 5-2 defeat at the hands of Friday’s opponents, France.
One of Iceland’s main strength is their home form, as they are undefeated in nine European Championship qualifiers, recording an impressive seven victories. They have also scored at least two goals in three of their last four home qualifiers. At the other end of the pitch, Iceland have kept clean sheets in six of their last nine home qualifiers.
France (Odds of 15/2 for victory)
The world champions have enjoyed another strong start to a campaign by winning five of their six qualifiers, scoring at least two goals in five victories. The only game Les Bleus failed to win was a 2-0 defeat against Turkey in June, which could prove to be a costly result when it comes to deciding who wins the group. The loss to Turkey was France’s only defeat in 15 European Championship qualifying games.
France have been difficult to beat on their travels in qualifying for the European Championships, as Les Bleus have suffered just one defeat in 12 qualifiers on the road. Once again, the Turkey game being the exception. The visitors have also been relatively prolific on their travels in qualifying, scoring at least two goals in seven of their last ten away games.
Talking of goals, Chelsea’s Olivier Giroud and Bayern Munich’s Kingsley Coman have both already scored three goals apiece in Group H. Giroud could be even more important to France, as they are without a number of attacking players, including star striker Kylian Mbappe.
This is likely to be an anything but an easy trip for France. Les Bleus have a badly depleted squad because of injury, with some key players sidelined, including goalkeeper Hugo Lloris. Iceland are also so strong on home soil and will not make it easy for the visitors. However, the visitors have crazy strength-in-depth and we do think that Didier Deschamps team will just shade it.
Verdict: Back the away win at odds of 9/2 and/or the over 2.5 goals scored at odds of 9/10. (All odds are taken from Bet365).
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Who will come out on top between Iceland and France?