Croatia come into this World Cup qualifying match with Iceland as the solid favorite, but do they deserve that respect from oddsmakers?
Their recent form has been lacking as they have not won a World Cup match since beating Wales back in March. And Niko Kovac takes over as manager after Igor Stimac was sacked due to the team’s recent woes.
The Croats won their last two matches against Iceland, scoring seven goals and only conceding one back in World Cup qualifying in 2005.
Oddsmakers monitored by Odds Shark had Croatia as the betting favorite at -105 as of Thursday morning, with Iceland at +333 and a draw line of +250.
Iceland qualified second in Group E and they beat some solid teams in Slovenia and Norway to make it to this playoff. Iceland have never qualified for the World Cup, but they come into this match in good form unbeaten in their last five matches.
Croatia boast some world-class players in Luka Modric, Mario Mandzukic and Niko Kranjcar. Real Madrid’s Modric is the playmaker in the middle and he is the player Iceland must focus on, as he is sensational at setting up scoring chances.
Iceland have only conceded two goals in their last three qualifying matches, and they face a struggling Croatia offense that has managed just two goals in their last four matches.
Croatia’s defense has given up four goals in their last two qualifying matches and it would have been five had not Scotland missed a penalty in their last one.
Iceland’s talented midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson, who plays at Tottenham, has to play well facing a solid Croatian midfield. And Kolbeinn Sigthorsson, from Ajax, will have to pace the offense for the home side.
Croatia and Iceland were the two teams in group play that had the fewest points as runners-up.