Turkey plays the tricky away game against Iceland on Tuesday evening in Reykjavik. With a win, Turkey can hardly miss the European Championship qualification, but Iceland is planning to throw a spanner in the works.
Iceland was of course one of the tastemakers of the 2016 European Championships, in which the Scandinavians managed to advance through to the quarter-finals in their very first major tournament. With only 360,000 inhabitants, the country is still doing great, although it had to go home immediately after the group stage at the World Cup last year and it recently relegated from group A of the Nations League.
The Icelandic arrows are now focused on qualifying for next year’s European Championship. The team of coach Erik Hamren meets the expectations for the time being, without really splashing. The duels against low-flyers like Andorra (0-2) and Albania (1-0) yielded narrow but much-needed victories, while a 4-0 win was lost on a visit to France. The current selection is above all very solid and experienced – only three players are younger than 25. Midfield in particular is very strong with the ‘English’ Gyfli Sigurdsson (Everton), Aron Gunnarsson (Cardiff City) and Johan Berg Gudmundsson (Burnley).
The Turks are in seventh heaven, after last weekend ruling world champion France was defeated 2-0. Kaan Ayhan and Cengiz Ünder managed to put the final score on the scoreboard in Konya even before the break signal. After the tea, the Turks failed to sprinkle more salt in the French wounds, although that did not spoil the fun of course. “France has a strong team and is a big football country, but we were better today,” Senol Günes, the national coach, beamed afterwards. “We are in good shape, but the game against Iceland is incredibly important. France will come out of the group anyway, so we are competing with Iceland for the second ticket for direct EC qualification. ‘
Turkey can indeed take a giant step towards European Championship qualifying on Tuesday evening. The country has so far won all three European Championship qualifiers and is putting Iceland at a considerable six-point deficit when winning. A draw would also not be bad for Turkey, since the current three-point lead would remain intact. The supporters will especially hope that Ünder will also get it right in Reykjavik. The prodigy of AS Roma is one of the greatest talents in the European fields.
PREDICTION: Both teams to score / NO @ 1,82