Slovakia vs Iceland Match Analysis & Prediction
16/11/2023 10:45 pm
Slovakia will be looking for a point that would see them seal their place at Euro 2024 when they host Iceland at Stadion Tehelne pole on Thursday night.
A victory over Luxembourg on matchday eight put the hosts on the brink of a third successive finals appearance, taking them five points clear in the group.
Slovakia’s buffer in second place means that even a defeat here will keep their fate in their own hands before facing already-eliminated Bosnia-Herzegovina on the final matchday.
For Iceland to keep themselves in contention, they must win this game by any scoreline except 1-0, because a 2-1 victory for Slovakia in the reverse means they would still have the edge on head-to-head with three points separating the sides.
If Iceland win 2-1, they will have the upper hand on goal difference, while a win of any other scoreline would give them the ascendancy in the head-to-head record.
However, they would need Slovakia to lose in Bosnia, Luxembourg to drop points, as well as picking up a win themselves away to a Portugal side who have won every matches so far in the section.
It looks far-fetched, and it is incredibly unlikely, but Iceland will at least have a playoff spot to fall back on following their performances in the last Nations League campaign.
It leaves Francesco Calzona’s side as the overwhelming favourites to join Portugal in the finals from this group, as they also have a favourable head-to-head record over Luxembourg thanks to their matchday eight win.
Slovakia have been good in the section and deserve their spot in the finals as they have proven so far that they are the best of the rest in the group, as apart from a matchday one draw with Luxembourg, only Portugal have taken points off them.
With Milan Skriniar and David Hancko at the back and Napoli maestro Stanislav Lobotka in front, Slovakia’s foundations have been rooted in defensive solidity, keeping five clean sheets in their eight qualifiers so far.
They are one of the nations who have taken full advantage of the Euros’ expansion to 24 teams, as this will be a third qualification from three since the number of teams was increased for Euro 2016, having not reached a single finals prior following independence from Czechoslovakia in 1992.
Their fairytale run at Euro 2016 and a respectable display at Russia 2018 remain Iceland’s only moments in the limelight, and they will have to hope they can navigate the playoffs if they want a taste of major tournament football again, unless a remarkable set of results transpire in this section.
After losing four of their first five matches in Group J, Iceland looked dead and buried, but a late surge has still given them minor hope of a miraculous automatic qualification.
Hopes certainly appeared to have dimished when beaten by Luxembourg in September, but they have taken seven points from a possible nine since then, meaning it is still mathematically possible.
Slovakia vs. Iceland Head to head
In the six previous meetings between these two teams, Slovakia have claimed four victories while Iceland have won one, and they have drawn once. Iceland have scored seven goals and conceded 12 in the process.
Slovakia Team News
Slovakia have been boosted massively by the return of Sparta Prague winger Lukas Haraslin, who missed October’s internationals with injury.
Matus Bero and Adam Zrelak are the most notable absentees due to injury, but that has given the opportunity to 17-year-old Leo Sauer to come in after the Feyenoord youngster scored on his professional debut earlier this season.
Slovakia's Last 5 Matches
Iceland Team News
Danish-based due Gylfi Sigurdsson and Mikael Anderson have both withdrawn from the Iceland squad due to injury, with Andri Gudjohnsen and Mikael Egill Ellertsson replacing them.
Defender Hordur Magnusson remains out injured, but there is a spot for Kristian Hlynsson, who has been rewarded with another call-up after being one of the rare bright sparks for Ajax this season.
Iceland's Last 5 Matches
Slovakia vs. Iceland: Odds and Predictions
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