Iceland vs Belgium Betting Preview – 11/09/2018

Iceland vs Belgium Betting Preview – 11/09/2018

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Iceland vs Belgium

Reykjavik plays host to the UEFA Nations League this evening as Iceland entertain Belgium, with home manager Erik Hamren looking for an improved performance after his side were thrashed 6-0 by Switzerland on Saturday. In prospect they face a dangerous Belgium side who only missed out on the World Cup Final by the narrowest of margins against eventual winners France.

For Iceland to have any chance in this game, they are going to have to deal with sustained pressure and long periods without the ball against one of international football’s most potent frontlines. Looking at face value beyond last Saturday’s result doesn’t paint a much better picture – Iceland are without a win since their 4-1 victory against Indonesia in January, although that doesn’t quite tell the whole story.

They became the smallest ever nation to play in a World Cup finals last summer and despite going out in the group stage, a credible 1-1 draw against Argentina followed by a narrow 2-1 defeat to eventual finalists Croatia shows they shouldn’t be underestimated.

Burnley’s Johann Berg Gudmundsson scored a hat-trick in Iceland’s last victory and will be a big miss with a hamstring injury. They will also be without their captain as Cardiff’s Aron Gunnarsson works his way back to full fitness following knee surgery. Completing the trio of Premier League prospects, Everton’s Gylfi Sigurdsson is available and could prove a threat from dead ball situations.

This game will be an opportunity for Iceland to bounce back from what was a humiliating defeat against Swizterland in their opening Nations League game last time out. The 6-0 thrashing was the nation’s heaviest defeat since 2007 and was a hugely disappointing result for the team in their first game under new manager Erik Hamren.

The former Sweden coach has huge shoes to fill left by former boss Heimir Hallgrímsson, who guided the team to two successive major tournaments in Euro 2016 and the 2018 World Cup. It was the worst possible start for Hamren, who will be desperate for his team to pick up a positive result in this contest.

Belgium will look to dominate this match after finally showing glimpses of fulfilling their huge potential. A third-place finish in Russia saw them dispatch of both Brazil and England and could be the catalyst for Roberto Martinez’s side looking ahead to future tournaments.

They started well with a 4-0 friendly win over Scotland on Friday and will no doubt be looking for a similarly convincing scoreline tonight. Kevin De Bruyne remains sidelined through injury but there is an embarrassment of riches up front with the likes of Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku and Dries Mertens leading the line.

Martinez isn’t going to take this game lightly and has outlined his ambitions to win the Nations League, perhaps acknowledging the positive momentum it could bring going into the Euros in two years time. Belgium are hardly a nation with a rich history of winning silverware at international level and getting their hands of any kind of trophy would be a huge lift to the team.

Despite the talent available to them, they are yet to make it to a major final in their last three attempts, with the 2018 World Cup being the first time they have made it to the semi-finals of any competition with this Golden Generation of players. If they fail to win anything as a group, it would undoubtedly be deemed a failure given the quality of the squad.

Losing only one of their last 27 internationals, Belgium have been in terrific form over the last two years and will be confident of making a positive start to the Nations League here.

Predictions

Playing in Iceland makes it slightly harder as the home fans will be sure to create an intimidating atmosphere with their synonymous Viking clap, but Belgium’s quality should shine through in the end. Iceland cannot be totally written off, no-one expected them to beat England in the Euro’s two years ago, but the form book will need to be thrown out the window, and then some if they are to get anything from this match.

Recommended bet: Belgium -1 handicap at 8/11 with SkyBet – BET HERE

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