For the first time in its history, the Iceland national football team has qualified to play in the FIFA World Cup. Iceland has participated in qualifiers for every World Cup since 1974 but after 11 straight failed attempts, the wait is finally over as Iceland will make its World Cup debut in 2018 in Russia.
The national team has come a long way on the international stage in recent years, also qualifying for the UEFA European Championship for the first time ever in 2016. Iceland proved to be more than just a doormat in that tournament too, advancing out of the group stage and picking up an upset win over England in the Round of 16 before eventually being eliminated in the quarterfinals.
Iceland’s Odds to Win World Cup: +15000
While Iceland’s soccer team has taken significant strides over the last few years, it is still a major underdog to win the tournament. World Cup betting odds have Iceland going off at +15000 to win the event.
Those odds place Iceland in the same group as Senegal, Egypt and Serbia, who are all also paying +15000 to lift the trophy. The four teams sit behind 17 national teams with better odds to win the World Cup but ahead of 11 teams with longer odds.
Iceland’s Odds to Win Group D: +1200
Iceland enters the 2018 World Cup as the biggest underdog on the board to win Group D at +1200. This is a group that is expected to be run over by Argentina, an experienced superpower on the international stage that is a -180 favorite to come away with the group’s top spot. The group is rounded out by Croatia (+225 to win Group D) and Nigeria (+1000).
Interestingly, Croatia and Iceland were both in the same qualifying group to advance into the World Cup. Croatia had never lost to Iceland with a 4-1-0 record against the national team before Iceland picked up a 2-0 win over Croatia at home last year.
If Iceland is able to find a way to top Croatia again in World Cup play, it could end up paying off on its odds of +250 to advance out of the group stage. But with Argentina and Croatia both favored to advance, Iceland is going off at -350 to see its World Cup debut end in Group D.
Iceland’s Best World Cup Bets
The Iceland national team is a massive +900 underdog to win its first game of the group against Argentina, with the Argentines paying -300 on a win and +400 on a draw. Even the most optimistic Iceland backers will likely accept this as an inevitable defeat.
Iceland’s other two games in group play are far more intriguing. The national team has its best shot at a win as slight favorites at +155 against Nigeria (+170 to win, +200 to draw). Bettors looking to support Iceland in the group stage should like the value in this game, which projects to be a very close one.
Both Croatia and Iceland have excellent defensive structures, and in the qualifying round they played to a 2-0 Croatia win in Croatia and a 1-0 Iceland win in Iceland. The UNDER 2.5 goals at -180 would be worth consideration in this one while Iceland would pay +310 on an outright upset and +245 to force a draw against the favored Croatia (-130).
Iceland’s Player to Watch: Gylfi Sigurdsson
While he doesn’t show up on the scorecard very often, midfielder Aron Gunnarsson has been a valuable member of the team and the captain of this Iceland squad since 2012. Unfortunately for the 29-year-old, an injury-riddled season with Cardiff City has Gunnarsson’s status and fitness for the tournament up in the air.
Whether or not Gunnarsson can go, another player to hone in on for Iceland is striker Gylfi Sigurdsson. Sigurdsson plays his club ball at Everton and has scored 18 goals through 55 international caps for Iceland, including four goals in 10 games during qualifiers. The forward is going off at +15000 to be the tournament’s top goal scorer.
Iceland’s Road to Russia
From 1958 to 2014, Iceland owned a dismal record of 21-18-57 through 96 FIFA World Cup qualifying matches. Those woeful days came to an end in UEFA Group I play leading up to the 2018 World Cup as Iceland won the group with a 7-1-2 record while outscoring its opponents 16-7.
A 5-0-0 record at home helped offset a more pedestrian 2-1-2 record away from Reykjavík. Iceland will need to step its game up away from home if it hopes to make a splash in this year’s tournament.
|1||Hannes Thór Halldórsson||GK||Randers||49|
|13||Runar Alex Runarsson||GK||Nordsjælland||3|
|2||Birkir Már Sævarsson||DEF||Valur||79|
|3||Samúel Kári Fridjónsson||DEF||Vålerenga||4|
|5||Sverrir Ingi Ingason||DEF||Rostov||20|
|15||Hólmar Örn Eyjólfsson||DEF||Levski Sofia||10|
|18||Hördur Björgvin Magnússon||DEF||Bristol City||16|
|23||Ari Freyr Skúlason||DEF||Lokeren||56|
|7||Jóhann Berg Gudmundsson||MID||Burnley||67|
|8||Birkir Bjarnason||MID||Aston Villa||67|
|16||Ólafur Ingi Skúlason||MID||Karabukspor||36|
|17||Aron Einar Gunnarsson||MID||Cardiff City||77|
|21||Arnór Ingvi Traustason||MID||Malmo FF||19|
|4||Albert Gudmundsson||FWD||PSV Eindhoven||5|
|9||Björn Bergmann Sigurdarson||FWD||Rostov||12|
|22||Jón Dadi Bödvarsson||FWD||Reading||38|