Iceland drew their first ever game at a major tournament with a magnificent 1-1 result against Portugal in their opening game. Hungary also impressed with a determined 2-0 win over Austria.
A win against the Icelanders would go a long way to Austria finishing as unlikely group winners and safely see them into the knockout stages.
Our experts Tomasz Mortimer and Alexander Freyr Einarsson preview Saturday’s game.
Alexander Freyr Einarsson: Captain Aron Gunnarsson was struggling for fitness before the 1-1 draw against Portugal but ended up playing the whole game. He says he “feels better” after the game than before it so he should be expected to start against Hungary. Apart from stiff legs after the game against Portugal there seem to be no problems and everyone should be fit to play. It wouldn‘t be surprising to see the same starting XI as in the first game but we could also see some changes as Hungary possess a much different threat than Portugal.
Tomasz Mortimer: Attila Fiola is the only fresh injury concern for Hungary after picking up an ankle knock in the 2-0 win over Austria on Tuesday. Fiola has been a mainstay of the Hungary team for almost 18 months now and would definitely be missed if he were to not make it, especially as his deputy Barnabes Bese has made just one appearance at international level.
Elsewhere Zoltan Gera usually wouldn’t play two games in a week at club level, and at 37 it will be interesting to see whether Bernd Storck leaves the former West Brom and Fulham midfielder out, even after such a majestic performance against the Austrians.
Gergo Lovrencsics was back in training on Thursday night after missing Tuesday’s game but he’s unlikely to make it after impressive performances from Krisztián Nemeth, Balazs Dzsudzsak, Adam Szalai and especially László Kleinheisler on matchday one. Everything else is likely to remain unchanged.
Alexander Freyr Einarsson: Iceland comes into this game after a magnificent 1-1 draw against one of the competition‘s favourites Portugal. It was their first ever game at a major tournament. Following Euro qualification, Iceland suffered many losses in the friendlies leading to the tournament while only beating arguably weaker teams. As has been proven before, friendlies don‘t have a deep meaning and it was a whole different Iceland team that showed up against Portugal. That had an exponentially stronger fighting spirit, a gallant and fearless attitude and were ready to give it all. The game against Hungary should be no different.
Tomasz Mortimer: Hungary were really impressive against Austria, they played some very nice football and made some great attacking combinations, which has been sorely lacking in the pre-Euro friendlies, whilst they also looked fairly solid defensively. But the Magyars need to be wary, Tuesday’s game could have taken a different path had David Alaba’s shot in the first minute been a few inches further to the left. They know they will have to be at their very best against a strong Icelandic side – one that many in Hungary thought would be the easiest game of the group.
Alexander Freyr Einarsson: Iceland got where they are by fighting as a team. However, the importance of one Gylfi Sigurðsson cannot be stressed enough. The Swansea star was on fire in the Premier League in 2016, scoring nine goals, and he was absolutely crucial to Iceland‘s qualifying success. He was Iceland‘s top scorer with six goals in the qualifiers, including three in two victories against the Netherlands. Not only does he score but his passing game is remarkable and he can create plenty of chances for his teammates.
Tomasz Mortimer: Laszlo Kleinheisler was at the heart of everything good Hungary did in the attacking third against Austria, and his play for Szalai’s goal just epitomised what he is all about: picking the ball up in a tight area, turning towards goal and making two clever, quick, intricate passes. His final ball at times lets him down, but he’s such a positive footballer with a low centre of gravity which makes him such an exciting player to watch at just 22.
Hungary’s traditional key man Dzsudzsak was really quiet on Tuesday threatening with just one long-range shot, while also wasting Hungary’s best chance in the first half. He will have a lot to prove on matchday two.
Alexander Freyr Einarsson: Iceland‘s defence was rock solid in the qualifiers and showed great quality against Portugal as well. I expect Iceland to keep a clean sheet but we could also see Hungary have a great game and Iceland endure an off-day. In either case, I‘m sure you can bet against both teams scoring at 1.77.
Tomasz Mortimer: Both teams to score actualy looks like a good bet at 2.08. Iceland play very open football, and in their 6 games have been involved in 24 goals, and though Hungary aren’t known for their goalscoring prowess, they’ll have a lot of confidence in their ability after Tuesday, and they have a lot of firepower in their team and on the bench.
Alexander Freyr Einarsson: Birkir Bjarnason scored Iceland‘s first goal at a major tournament and helped the team secure a point against Portugal. It would be no surprise if ‘Big game Birkir’ would simply add to his Euro tally against Hungary. Bjarnason to score at 7.00 could prove to be a decent bet!
Tomasz Mortimer: Laszlo Kleinheisler can be a bit fiery at times and likes to put in a strong tackle – he is called the Hungarian Scholes after all – so the odds at 31.00 of him scoring and getting booked look pretty tantalising.
Alexander Freyr Einarsson: Hungary deserve respect after a great win against Austria in the first round. However, I expect Iceland to win 2-0 at 11.00.
Tomasz Mortimer: Hungary 1-1 Iceland at 6.40.