Iceland, one of two teams making their World Cup debuts along with Panama, is the smallest nation by population to ever qualify for this tournament but they look to make a big impact. Iceland shocked the world at the Euro 2016, making it all the way to the quarterfinals after 2-1 win in the Round of 16 against England.
The 2018 FIFA World Cup draw placed Iceland in Group D with , Croatia and Nigeria. Argentina is favored to win the Group but Iceland proved they can compete with anyone and I see them fighting for second place with Croatia and Nigeria. Here are Iceland's fixtures:
June 16: Argentina vs. Iceland
June 22: Nigeria vs. Iceland
June 26: Iceland vs. Croatia
Iceland won seven of their 10 games to win UEFA Group I, finishing above Croatia, Ukraine and Turkey to qualify directly. They may not have as much individual talent as many of the teams in this tournament but their strength is their collective. If you want to take points off Iceland you are going to have to earn them.
This is a team with confident, tested players who know how to win. They won't dribble their way past their opponents and dazzle them but they can be organized on defense and counter explosively.
Gylfi Sigurdsson is Iceland's player to watch. Sigurdsson is a midfielder who has played for Swansea City, Tottenham and Everton, he led Iceland with four goals in World Cup qualifying and anything this team creates will go through him. He has 46 goals and 36 assists in 209 Premier League appearances but one cause for concern is that he had a down season for Everton, scoring just four goals with three assists in 27 games.
Iceland's recent form is also questionable, they haven't won a FIFA-approved game since the end of their qualification campaign, losing four of six games with two draws. What's more concerning about this is that four of their opponents didn't even qualify for the World Cup themselves. Believing they can repeat their Euro 2016 heroics may seem difficult because of their recent form but at +300 I'm taking them to reach the Round of 16.
Iceland Stage of Elimination Odds at Jazz Sportsbook
Runner up +10000
Round of 16 +300
Group Stage -500
Check odds here:
Odds as seen on ESPN Chalk: