Our prediction for this Nations League match:
Israel will be aiming to make a flying start to their UEFA Nations League campaign when they welcome Iceland to their Sammy Offer Stadium. Israel defeated Faroe Islands in their last group game in the 2022 World Cup qualifiers, but that did not help them book their spot at the tournament in Qatar. The Israelis are eager to impress in their Nations League opener, but they will have to prove their worth on the field.
A man to keep an eye on in the home team will be Hoffenheim attacker Moanes Dabbur, who is eyeing his 38th Israel cap. The Icelanders, on the other hand, are no longer playing an important role in qualifiers for major tournaments. Arnar Vidarsson’s troops experienced all sorts of problems at the back in a 5-0 loss to Spain in March, which is yet another reason why home win should be considered. Genoa midfielder Albert Gudmundsson is the most notable player in the away team.
Highlighted Player (Lior Refaelov):
Lior Refaelov is an Israeli footballer playing as an attacking midfielder for the Belgium giants with whom he has been a mainstay since his arrival in 2011. Rafaelov began his career at Maccabi Haifa where he played 161 league appearances and scored 30 goals before moving to Belgium.
The experienced 30-year-old Israel international has made his senior debut for his country in 2007 and has since earned over 30 caps for Israel. Lior Rafaelov is a player of vast international experience despite the fact Club Brugge are his first and so far only club in Europe.
The 30-year-old attacking midfielder is a major force upfront who has scored six times during Brugge’s Europa League campaign in 2014-15, while he also scored the winner in the Belgian Cup final to earn his club a first trophy in eight years. Last season Rafaleov repeated the feat, having scored in the 2016 Belgian Cup Final, but it wasn’t enough for Club Brugge to avoid getting defeated 2-1 to Standard Liege.
Highlighted Team (Iceland):
Iceland had little to no success during the first 60 years of entering the FIFA competitions, failing to qualify to a single major tournament in that period, but the team then went on to make tremendous progress at the start of the 21st century.
The Nordic side narrowly missed out on a place at the 2014 World Cup, losing in the play-off to Croatia, but they then enjoyed a thoroughly impressive qualifying campaign to reach the Euro 2016, taking 20 points from 10 matches to leave Turkey and Netherlands trailing in their wake.
As a result, the generation featuring players like Gylfi Sigurdsson, Aron Gunnarsson, Kolbeinn Sigthorsson and Emil Hallfredsson will go down as one of the most successful in the national team history and it could be quite some time before another team repeat their success. Even if he was only used as a bit-part player during the Euro 2016 qualifiers, Eidur Gudjohnsen has got to be mentioned as the first Icelandic footballer to have played for top European sides.