Our football match prediction:
Modric-less Croatia defeated Kosovo and Finland in previous two qualifying matches, but they do not want to stop now. The Croats aim to extend their winning run in Group I and they are regarded as favourites on paper to pick up all three points from Saturday’s football match against Iceland. Ivan Rakitic returns to the starting line-up and seeing that Ante Cacic has a number of top-class players to choose from, we predict that the visitors will return home empty-handed. Iceland head into the match following back-to-back wins over Finland and Turkey, but they will have a much bigger fish to fry in Saturday’s clash against Croatia. In their last meeting in a competitive match Croatia recorded a 2-0 win over Iceland and there is every chance history will repeat itself. Back then Mario Mandzukic and Dario Srna scored for the Vatreni and it is well known that the duo is still part of the Croatian national team.
Highlighted Player (Nikola Kalinic):
Nikola Kalinic is a product of Hajduk Split’s youth school. The 187-cm-tall striker scored 32 goals in 59 appearances for Hajduk at senior level and he played for the likes of Pula and Sibenik in Croatia as well. In 2009 he moved to Blackburn Rovers for fee of £6 million. Nikola Kalinic made his Blackburn Rovers debut against Sunderland on 22 August, 2009 and he scored his first goal for the Riversiders against Peterborough United in the League Cup. After making 44 league appearances for Blackburn Rovers, the Croatian attacker joined Dnipro in 2011 and he played for the Ukrainian outfit until 2015. Kalinic signed a four-year deal with Fiorentina on 15 August, 2015 and he impressed in the 2015/2016 Serie A campaign, scoring 12 goals in 36 games. The Fiorentina striker made two appearances for Croatia at the 2016 European Championship in France and it has to be noted that he found the net in a 2-1 win over Spain in the group stages of the competition.
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 finals, 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.