Euro 2016 Group F: Hungary can edge Iceland in showdown between plucky pair
Holly Thackeray | June 15, 2016
Iceland v Hungary
- Euro 2016 Group F
- Saturday, June 18th
- Kick-off: 17:00 BST
- Nouveau Stade de Bordeaux, Bordeaux
- Live on BBC One
Hungary heroes clash with Iceland’s cool customers
Unfancied Euro 2016 Group F opponents Hungary, visiting the European Championship stage for the first time in 44-years, and Iceland, the smallest ever nation to reach the finals, now square up for what could well prove the most decisive and intriguing encounter in their pool – not a position either would have dared dream they’d be in.
Saturday teatime sees the opportunistic Hungarians, who impressively vanquished Austria 2-0 in their opener, pit their wits against wily Iceland, who heroically held pool big-guns Portugal, much to captain Cristiano Ronaldo’s distaste. With this much steely grit and determination on show, a draw is a delicious 21/10 dabble with Coral to unfold. However, there is no precedent for previous wrangles ending evenly.
In 10 previous contests between these two cult competition teams, Hungary emerge with a historical head-to-head advantage after a soaring seven successes, and the Magyars will aim to live up their magical heritage with odds of 19/10 for a successive victory to keep them incredibly atop Pool F.
Bordeaux will be the stage for battle where this plucky pair of underdogs boast their best vintages for some time, and Iceland’s Our Boys are 6/4 for their first Euro finals three points.
Yet, dugout duo Lars Lagerback and Heimir Hallgrimsson will have to get their players performing for more than just a smash and grab here, as Hungary have proven they have passion and intent in spades.
Can Kiraly keep another clean sheet?
Magyars man Gabor Kiraly, 40, has become a figure of celebration so far on the continent, due to a combination of the veteran keeping Austria attacks at arms length, his pajama-esque on-pitch pants and the no-look pass he completed last time out in nets.
The ex-Crystal Palace keeper is 19/10 to keep his second clean sheet of the tournament, having been a crucial cog in spurring his country to this stage. Who from Iceland’s equally ambitious ranks can trouble him, then?
Swansea City’s Gylfi Sigurdsson is the obvious shout after striking four in his past nine caps and, as his nation’s biggest star, is 11/4 to strike anytime. Though it was Basel midfielder Birkir Bjarnason, nicknamed ‘Thor’, who lethally struck the leveller past Portugal with a hammering finish and is 4/1 to add to his tournament tally.
Point to prove for striker Szalai
Hannover-owned hitman Adam Szalai celebrated with Magyar support like a man possessed after ending his two-year international scoring drought and tucking away a tightly orchestrated goal, so is 7/1 continue his attacking exploits with the opener now that the dam has been broken.
While, joint architect Laszlo Kleinheisler previously saw a qualifying play-off goal against Norway propel him to Bundesliga heights, and the Werder Bremen maestro can be backed at 7/2 to add another notch to his name anytime, with substitute and second scorer versus Austria Zoltan Stieber 12/1 for the last word again.
Zoltan Gera, once of West Bromwich Albion fame also deserves a scoring shout at 11/2 anytime, despite now sitting deeper in front of the defence, as the 37-year-old has been on target twice previously against Iceland, with skipper Balazs Dzsudzsak (10/3) also having breached this opposition before.
In recent rumbles there have been goals galore between Hungary and Iceland, with the former having hit 10 in the past three against the Nordic team. Though, with so much at stake here, and the resilience of both backlines, 2/1 for the Hungarians to lead after 75 minutes, or the Magyars to be victorious by a one goal margin at 13/4 are the most tempting wagers.
Coral’s top tip: Back Hungary at 19/10 to beat Iceland.