Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Iceland vs Austria Euro 2016 Football Match Preview And Prediction - June 22, 2016


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Iceland vs. Austria: Crunch time in Group F as Iceland seek history

Iceland were agonisingly close to their first win at a major tournament before Hungary grabbed a late equaliser on Saturday.

Lars Lagerback's men remain in with a chance of qualifying for the round of 16, while Austria haven't quite given up yet. Wednesday's Group F clash is therefore critical.

Vidir Sigurdsson (Iceland) and Marco Stein (Austria) preview the action.

What's at stake here?

Vidir Sigurdsson: Group F has turned into an astonishingly tight battle with three draws in four matches so far. Iceland have still not lost a match but need to win against Austria to ensure a place in the round of 16.

That win could also ensure the team first or second place in the group and very interesting opponents in the next round. A draw could also be enough to scrape through, depending on what happens in other groups, and mathematically Iceland might go through even if they lose against Austria -- but that is a long shot.

Marco Stein: With the 0-0 draw against Portugal, Austria's hopes for the round 16 were revived. On the last matchday, everything is still possible in Group F. Austria would need a win and hope either for a draw or even a win from Hungary against Portugal, to have a chance. Hungary are full of confidence as they are leading the group despite some pegging them as the weakest of the group before the tournament; Portugal are under high pressure, so Iceland might be the ideal opponent for Austria at the ideal moment.

Key battle

VS: Birkir Mar Saevarsson vs. Marko Arnautovic

Iceland's solid right-back will be up against Arnautovic, the quick and skilful Austrian left winger who showed his strength with Stoke City in the Premier League last season. Saevarsson is one of Iceland's most experienced players and is also one of the quickest. Although he had the bad fortune of an own goal in the dying minutes against Hungary, he has the experience and mentality to carry on as if nothing had happened.

He will be eager to shut down Arnautovic, who could be a handful.

MS: Julian Baumgartlinger vs. Gylfi Sigurdsson

The defensive midfielder has been Austria's player of the tournament so far. Swansea's Sigurdsson, who has also impressed, will be playing in the centre, where he becomes Baumgartlinger's direct opponent -- a good thing for Austria. Iceland's star could cause a lot problems for the Austrians, but with Baumgartlinger -- and maybe Stefan Ilsanker, if he stays in the starting XI after replacing David Alaba in defensive midfield -- Lagerback's team's attack could be prevented before it starts.

Star man

VS: Ragnar Sigurdsson

Iceland's best player so far, he has been almost faultless in the heart of the defence, very calm in possession, quick to spot danger and always in the right place at the right time, making some crucial tackles when needed.

Ragnar Sigurdsson, who has played for Russian Premier League side Krasnodar for the past two seasons after winning championships in both Denmark and Sweden, has set his targets on playing in England as soon as possible. He is a down-to-earth player who does not care about the names he faces on the field.

MS: Robert Almer

After a decent performance in the second half against Hungary, Almer really had to bring out the best in himself against Portugal. His kicking was not great, but Almer became an internet sensation by stopping every shot of Portugal superstar Cristiano Ronaldo in the 0-0 draw. The Austria Vienna goalkeeper's astonishing saves rescued Austria an important point and kept the hope of qualification alive. He was the best man on the pitch in Paris and will probably be as important against Iceland.

Prediction

MS: 1-0 to Austria. With Aleksandar Dragovic coming back to the team and the hope of qualifying dangling tantalisingly in front of them, Austria know what they have to do.

VS: 1-0 Iceland. They will shake off their disappointment after the draw against Hungary and win a crucial match 1-0 to make history.

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