An overachieving Iceland and an underwhelming Austria do battle this morning with qualification into the knockouts a possibility for both sides.
Iceland currently sit second in what is an extremely open Group F after two hard fought 1-1 draws. The late own-goal in their most recent game against Hungary would have no doubt broke the hearts of the tiny Nordic nation, but the performance was still one of which they can be immensely proud of.
Marcel Koller’s side, despite sitting bottom, can still progress, however, anything less than a win will not suffice. Goals have been difficult to come by so far and are they yet to score in the tournament, following a 0-0 with Portugal.
With both teams looking for a win, this could be a more open affair than previous games either have been a part of to date.
Key Battle – Gylfi Sigurdsson vs Marko Arnautovic
With both sides finding goals scarce so far, much responsibility will be placed on Gylfi Sigurdsson and Marko Arnautovic by their respective sides.
Both are talismanic forwards who are capable of creating chances and providing a direct goal threat – Premier League stars who are key figures in club football.
Sigurdsson scored a well-taken penalty against Hungary, yet with his side seeing less than 30% possession in both games he has been somewhat stifled to date. It is not to say, however, that he has been poor.
Arnautovic, on the other hand, has been disappointing in the first two games. Against Portugal in particular, the Stoke City man was largely anonymous. The stikers’s lack of impact is illustrated in his team’s failure to score in the opening two fixtures.
Both Iceland and Austria will be striving for a win, which may mean time and space on the ball for both men.
Despite a scare against Hungary, Iceland captain Aron Gunnarsson is expected to play this morning. Alfred Finnbogason will miss out though, after picking up yellow cards in each of his cameos.
For the Austrians, Aleksandar Dragovic will be again available for selection following his one game suspension. Zlatko Junuzovic will likely miss through an ankle injury.
These nations have only ever met on four previous occasions, with Austria winning twice and the other two being draws.
The last encounter finished in a 1-1 draw in a 2014 friednly. Marcel Sabitzer for Austria and Kolbein Sigthorsson for Strákarnir okkar were the scorers.
Iceland will once again see much less of the ball than their opponents, and will have to remain solid defensively for long periods of time.
Austria have been toothless to date, and will have to significantly improve in attack if they are to break down Lagerback and Hallgrimsson’s team. Despite Austria’s poor performances to date, this will be an even affair.
Iceland 1 Austria 1