Iceland and North Macedonia will cross swords on Sunday, September 5, at Laugardalsvöllur in Reykjavik, in the fifth round of Group J at World Cup 2022 Qualifiers. These two nations last met way back in 2009, when North Macedonia won 2-0.
Iceland vs North Macedonia
When: Sunday, September 5 – 16:00 GMT
Where: Laugardalsvöllur in Reykjavik, Iceland
Weather: Intermittent Clouds, 11°C
Referee: Ivan Kružliak (SVK)
It’s been 12 years since North Macedonia last met with Iceland. Their most recent clash happened during the 2010 World Cup qualifiers, when North Macedonia won with 2-0, although they have lost the first fixture of the qualifiers with 1-0 in Iceland.
To date, North Macedonia med with Iceland four times and won twice (2-1-1); however, since those meetings happened over a decade ago, we should be careful not to overreact to those results.
Now Or Never Situation for Iceland
When we talk Iceland, it’s hard to forget their remarkable performance at the 2016 World Cup, where the Vikings made it all the way into the quarter-finals, only to get eliminated by the eventual finalists, France (5-2). It was a fantastic underdog story that will go down in history as one of the most memorable runs in football.
However, a lot of time has passed since, and the times have changed – for Iceland, for the worse.
Since their run at the 2016 World Cup, Iceland have never reached the same heights or have come close to it. If we look back at their performances throughout 2020 and into 2021, Iceland are 2-1-9 across their last 12 outings, including a streak of eight consecutive losses from October 2020 – March 2021.
On a more positive, note Iceland have found some traction in 2021 and are 2-1-2 across their last five. That run includes wins against Lichtenstein (4-1) and Faroe Islands (1-0), a draw against Poland (2-2), and two losses against Mexico (1-2) and Romania (0-2), who beat the Vikings on Thursday.
Against Romania, Iceland struggled to make much happen in the final third, where Arnar Viðarsson fielded Vidar Kjartansson over Andri Gudjohnsen, who only featured in the final 15 minutes. He hasn’t managed to score a goal on the day, but the 19-year-old could likely get a nod for today’s match.
With that loss, Iceland are 1-0-3 with only three points to their name – good for fifth place in Group J. Iceland are now six points short of Germany in second and seven behind Armenia as surprise leaders of the group. Suffice to say, Iceland need to start making some noise now or come to terms that they won’t be travelling to Qatar.
North Macedonia In a Solid Position
North Macedonia enter this match with a 2-1-1 record and seven points, which sits them only two short of Germany. So far, they’ve lost to Romania (2-3), won the next two against Lichtenstein (5-0) and Germany (2-1), but dropped the ball on Thursday, with a 0-0 draw against Armenia.
Even though North Macedonia surely wanted to defeat Armenia and climb their way up the ladder, they’ve at least kept a clean sheet, so it’s unlikely that we will see any changes in the defensive line.
The attacking line has goals in them, so there likely won’t be any changes on the card. Ezgjan Alioski should feature as a threat from the wing, while Milan Ristovski might get a spot in the team after he has done well as a substitute for Adis Jahovic last time out.
North Macedonia are 1-1-3 across their last five, with all three of their losses coming from EURO 2020, where the Lynx lost against Austria (1-3), Ukraine (1-2) and Netherlands (0-3). Although not exactly promising results, North Macedonia deserve some slack since they had to face tough opponents. Their only win over that stretch happened against Kazahstan (4-0) at the start of June.
Iceland vs North Macedonia Betting Pick
Iceland will enjoy home advantage today; however, based on their recent results at Laugardalsvöllur, it’s hard to call it an “advantage. Iceland are 1-0-4 at home across their last five with losses against England (0-1), Denmark (0-3), Belgium (1-2) and Romania (0-2).
Although you could say that those are all stronger teams than North Macedonia, that doesn’t change the fact that the Vikings aren’t in great form.
Prediction: North Macedonia +0.00 Asian Handicap – 1.99 at Sportmarket