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Iceland faces uphill struggle in UEFA Nations League vs Belgium

Romelu Lukaku Iceland vs Belgium UEFA Nations League

Minnows Iceland have been on a rapid climb in the world of international football over the last half a decade or so but look to have been given a sharp reality check over the last few months. The side that eliminated England at Euro 2016 has won just two of its last 10 games across all competitions and must now take on a Belgian outfit that reached the final four at the World Cup earlier this summer.

  • Belgium won the last meeting between these two sides 3-1 back in 2014.
  • Iceland has lost its last three matches.
  • Belgium is unbeaten in its last seven away games, winning its last four.

A long road back for Iceland

Following a sobering experience at the World Cup in Russia earlier this summer, things look to be going from bad to worse for Iceland right now. Having surprised the world at Euro 2016, they look to be very much on a downward trajectory at present, and their opening match in the UEFA Nations League was nothing short of disastrous as they were hammered 6-0 by Switzerland.

Belgium, by stark contrast, is flying high under bold coach Roberto Martinez. The attack-minded manager led the Red Devils to the final four of the recent World Cup, and they thrashed Scotland 4-1 last Friday night in their most recent friendly outing.

This will be Belgium’s first match in the UEFA Nations League and it should be a comfortable win for the visitors. Belgium is priced at -300 to pick up another victory on the road, while Iceland is all the way out at +1000, despite having home advantage.

And while it is never easy trying to predict the exact scoreline of any given game, we are expecting goals in this one. Belgium won the last match between these countries 3-1 back in 2014 and you can back the same scoreline on this occasion at a competitive price of +1100.

Belgium’s ‘Golden Generation’ coming good

While Belgium did not manage to win a first World Cup crown this summer, there are encouraging signs that the work Martinez is putting in is beginning to pay rich dividends. The defence has looked more organized, but it is in attack where Belgium really shines, with the likes of Romelu Lukaku and Eden Hazard both world-class talents – Kevin De Bruyne is missing from this squad through long-term injury.

The pair of Lukaku and Hazard were on the scoresheet against Scotland and we are expecting both to do some serious damage to the Iceland backline on Tuesday evening as well. Lukaku is at -125 to find the back of the net during the 90 minutes, while he should also be a solid bet to score either the first or last goal of the game, at +275.

By way of comparison, Eden Hazard is at +125 to get his name on the scoresheet and +400 to open the scoring on the night. He is also at +650 to score two or more goals, while Lukaku is at the shorter price of +350 to do the same.

Things are looking desperate for Iceland

After some exhilarating years at the top and a fairytale story to tell, Iceland, or this generation at the very least, look like they are finally running out of steam. They only managed a single point against Argentina at the World Cup before losing to Croatia and Nigeria, and we are expecting a long night here.

Iceland failed to get on the scoresheet against Switzerland and against the technically stronger Belgian side, that may not happen again. You can back Belgium to win to nil (without Iceland scoring a goal) at -110.

As mentioned above, you should expect goals in this one. A good idea would be to back Belgium to score in both halves at +110, while they should also win both halves – they are at +200 to do so.

For Belgium right now, the only trajectory looks to be on an upward curve. Iceland, by way of contrast, looks to be staring into the abyss.