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FIFA World Cup 2018 preview: Iceland face massive challenge against Croatia

26 June, 2018 6:35 AM
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FIFA World Cup 2018 preview: Iceland face massive challenge against Croatia

Rostov-On-Don: Struggling to make their mark, Iceland will aim for nothing less than a win when they take on already-qualified Croatia in their last Group D clash at the Rostov Arena here on Tuesday.

Croatia are already through to the Round of 16 with victories over Argentina and Nigeria while Iceland played a draw with Argentina before losing to Nigeria.

Iceland's fate does not only lie in their own hands as a win on Tuesday may not be enough for them but will also hope that Nigeria lose to Argentina.

Croatia tops the group with six points while the Heimir Hallgrimsson-coached Iceland have just a single point in their kitty and lie at the third spot.

After already achieving their first objective, Croatia would likely bench some of their players against Iceland.

On Tuesday, Croatia could also become the fourth team in the history of the World Cup to win all three of their group games without conceding a goal.

Six Croatian players -- Ivan Rakitic, Ante Rebic, Sime Vrsaljko, Mario Mandzukic, Marcelo Brozovic and Vedran Corluka -- are one booking away from being suspended for the last 16 and some of them are likely to be rested against Iceland.

Hinting at resting these players in Tuesday's clash, Croatia head coach Zlatko Dalic said: "I`d like to top the group. But, we have to take care because we have some players on yellow cards, so I will change the line-up."

"I will not start those who are on yellow cards because it`s too much of a risk, there are 22 players who can play," he added.

Iceland, on the other hand, are known for bouncing back from defeats such as the one they suffered against Nigeria.

The islanders employed a 4-5-1 formation against Argentina before switching to a 4-4-2 formation against the African side.

Emil Hallfredsson, who missed the match against Nigeria, is expected to return to the starting XI along with Johann Gudmundsson, who is almost fit again.

Commenting on their clash, Hallgrimsson said the game will be a tough test for both the sides.

"We know the scenario when we play Croatia - it`s (always) going to be really tough games," Hallgrimsson told mediapersons.

"Normally it`s steel to steel, not a lot of chances, always a lot of yellow cards. In three games out of four, we`ve had a red card," he added.

Iceland will mostly rely on Gylfi Sigurdsson, their highest-profile player, who missed a late penalty against Nigeria and a goal could have pulled his team back into the game.

Goalkeepers: Hannes Halldorsson (Randers/DEN), Runar Runarsson (Nordsjaelland/DEN), Frederik Schram (Roskilde/DEN)

Defenders: Kari Arnason (Aberdeen/SCO), Holmar Eyjolfsson (Levski Sofia/BUL), Rurik Gislason (Sandhausen/GER), Sverrir Ingason (Rostov/RUS), Hordur Magnusson (Bristol City/ENG), Birkir Saevarsson (Valur), Ragnar Sigurdsson (Rostov/RUS), Ari Skulason (Lokeren/BEL)

Midfielders: Birkir Bjarnason (Aston Villa/ENG), Samuel Fridjonsson (Valerenga/NOR), Johann Gudmundsson (Burnley/ENG), Aron Gunnarsson (Cardiff City/WAL), Emil Hallfredsson (Udinese/ITA), Gylfi Sigurdsson (Everton/ENG), Olafur Skulason (Karabukspor/TUR), Arnor Traustason (Malmo/SWE)

Forwards: Jon Bodvarsson (Reading/ENG), Alfred Finnbogason (Augsburg/GER), Albert Gudmundsson (PSV/NED), Bjorn Sigurdarson (Rostov/RUS)

Goalkeepers: Danijel Subasic (Monaco/FRA), Lovre Kalinic (Gent/BEL), Dominik Livakovic (Dinamo Zagreb)

Defenders: Vedran Corluka (Lokomotiv Moscow/RUS), Domagoj Vida (Besiktas/TUR), Ivan Strinic (Sampdoria/ITA), Dejan Lovren (Liverpool/ENG), Sime Vrsaljko (Atletico Madrid/ESP), Josip Pivaric (Dynamo Kiev/UKR), Tin Jedvaj (Bayer Leverkusen/GER), Duje Caleta-Car (Red Bull Salzburg/AUT)

Midfielders: Luka Modric (Real Madrid/ESP), Ivan Rakitic (Barcelona/ESP), Mateo Kovacic (Real Madrid/ESP), Milan Badelj (Fiorentina/ITA), Marcelo Brozovic (Inter Milan /ITA), Filip Bradaric (Rijeka)

Forwards: Mario Mandzukic (Juventus/ITA), Ivan Perisic (Inter Milan/ITA), Nikola Kalinic (AC Milan/ITA), Andrej Kramaric (Hoffenheim/GER), Marko Pjaca (Schalke/GER), Ante Rebic (Eintracht/GER)


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