Back Iceland to take historic 2014 World Cup leap in Croatia
Iceland can become the lowest-populated nation ever to appear at a World Cup finals by getting on the scoresheet and avoiding defeat in Croatia.
There may be less than 350,000 people on the Nordic island, but the eleven Icemen on the pitch in Zagreb can book their country’s place in Brazil at odds of 7/2 to qualify.
After holding Niko Kovac’s side to a 0-0 draw in the first leg, Iceland need a score draw at the Maksimir Stadium to qualify for the 2014 World Cup and all known form suggests they can deliver.
The visitors are unbeaten in six matches and face a team that have won just once in five fixtures.
Croatia lost home and away games against lowly Scotland in World Cup qualifying Group A and a sole strike in the 2-1 home defeat by Belgium was their only goal in their last 270 minutes of football.
Iceland survived a second-half scare in the first leg, after midfielder Olafur Ingi Skulason saw red for a 50th-minute foul on Ivan Perisic, to hold on and keep their World Cup dream very much alive.
Premier League stars Gylfi Sigurdsson and Aron Gunnarsson, of Spurs and Cardiff respectively, will again be vital to the Iceland effort and former Chelsea stalwart Eidur Gudjohnsen won’t let coach Lars Lagerback down, should his 35-year-old frame be required off the bench.
Striker Alfred Finnbogason leads the Eredivisie scoring charts after 12 games with 14 goals for Heerenveen and he is the pick at 10/1 odds to break the deadlock.
Croatia lost their last three home games and last tasted victory on their own turf back in March against Serbia, so Kovac’s team cannot be backed with any confidence to turn things around here at skinny win odds of 4/11.