Gylfi Sigurdsson and table toppers Iceland travel for Czech test
Iceland (an excellent 4/1 with Coral to win) arrive in Plzen to face the Czech Republic in this intriguing Euro 2016 qualifier, having made a perfect start to their campaign.
Their hosts, however, have also enjoyed three wins out of three so far in Group A, and will be aiming to topple the pool leaders on home turf.
Pavel Vrba’s side are understandably odds-on favourites at 4/5 to usurp the visitors, considering their home advantage, and there should be goals galore here, with both teams having netted eight times in qualifying so far.
The Czechs possess an undoubtedly world class custodian in Chelsea’s Petr Cech, despite his Stamford Bridge blues this season. It’s tough to make a case for the defence, however, as they have conceded four in their last three, including two against minnows Kazakhstan.
These recent rearguard wobbles mean they are unlikely to be able to shut adventurous Iceland out. The Nordic men have earned plaudits for their potent threat going forward, but have also been in fine defensive form, and are yet to leak a single goal in qualifying.
Iceland stopper Thor Halldorsson is 13/2 to feel the favour of the football gods once more and help his side win to nil, by keeping his fourth clean sheet of the campaign.
In attack, Group A leading marksman and Swansea City star Gylfi Sigurdsson will be expected to keep up his fine form after bagging four for his nation so far in qualifying. Also flying high in the Premier League, with two goals and seven assists, the influential 25-year-old is 9/1 to fire home first and make the difference for his country yet again.
Iceland and Real Sociedad striker Alfred Finnbogason, one of David Moyes’ new charges, was on target for his country during a warm-up friendly with Belgium, and is 10/3 to carry his threat over to the qualifiers and net anytime.
The Czechs also boast enough top-flight quality to give high-riding Iceland food for thought, however, with Boreck Dokal lying in wait for the visitors.
Rampant winger Dockal has averaged a goal a game in qualifying, making the Sparta Prague man 15/8 to hit home anytime and cause problems from the flanks.
Meanwhile, Matej Vydra should be a name familiar to both Premier League and Championship fans. The former West Bromwich Albion forward has returned for a second loan stint at Watford, and is in prolific form, having netted seven times in the league this term already.
Udinese-owned Vydra is likely to be used as an impact substitute by the Czechs, meaning he is good value at 5/1 to close the scoring.
Due to past encounters, the hosts hold the historical advantage, having bested Iceland in six previous meetings. The visitors were triumphant in the most recent clash, though, enjoying a 3-1 victory in 2001.
Arsenal veteran and Czech skipper Thomas Rosicky, now 34, was present the last time these two teams faced and his experience will no doubt be crucial to his country’s cause.
However, with Iceland having rested the vast majority of their starting XI in their midweek clash, and with their first qualification for a major tournament firmly within grasp, they should be both fresh and fired up to make history.