By Francisco Cardoso Pinto (Iceland) & Matt Cowdock (Hungary)
Iceland (Francisco Cardoso Pinto)
Last match recap
With 34% of ball possession, four shots (all on target) and a third of the passes made by the Portuguese players, the “Sons” managed to grab a point in their first game in a big competition ever. In my book that’s accomplishment enough to celebrate, even if Cristiano Ronaldo thinks otherwise. And celebrate they did. The “Sons” did not play a fantastic game but they were savvy enough to take advantage of Portugal’s lack of inspiration (especially in the second half) and of Ronaldo’s absence from the game.
Birkir Bjarnason, aka Thor, was the hero of the day, but the team as a whole showed great cohesion and solidarity among all players. Now that the first game nerves should be a thing of the past, the “Sons” are in a position to show everyone how they won both games against the Netherlands in the qualifying stage and prove those games weren’t a coincidence.
How I will watch it
It is now a wonderful sunny day in Lisbon, the sand on the beaches is asking to be stepped on, but so is my couch in my living room. After all this is an all time world football classic between two all-star contenders of the tournament (not!), so I will be loyal to the my couch’s wishes and will keep him company during the game. Portugal plays next against Austria, so I guess it is only right to begin the preparations early.
Prediction: Iceland 2 – 1 Hungary
Hungary won the first game in surprising fashion, but I believe the “Sons” feel now more free to play like they know how. Sigurdsson will be the man of the match with a brace and Hungary will manage to score a late goal, interrupting abruptly the fifth “hola” in a row in the stands by the Icelanders. If Ronaldo thought they celebrated too much in the first game, he won’t even understand what will happen after today’s game.
Hungary (Matt Cowdock)
Last match recap
I didn’t hold out much hope for Hungary last time out. And how wrong I was; a 2-0 win and old man Gabor Király keeping a clean sheet. What more could you ask for?
I also wasn’t certain where the goals would come from, but Adam Szalai’s first goal since December 2014 (no, seriously) broke the deadlock just after the hour mark. After a second yellow card for Aleksandar Dragovic, Hungary gained a second wind and were able to seal the win against a frankly turgid Austria with a Zoltan Stieber goal 3 minutes from time.
I think Hungary look in surprisingly good shape. They’re top of the group and I can see them getting something against Iceland, despite the latter grabbing a good point against Cristiano Ronaldo. Austria rarely troubled the Hungarian defence, barring a long-range effort from David Alaba which struck the post. But if Hungary can just expand and let their creative players roam more than they did in their last match, they could cause Iceland problems.
How I will watch it
Due to the chaotic aftermath of university results day, I’ll be watching in the front room of a friend’s house. Hungover and hungry for success, I’ll be hopeful that my plucky sweepstakes can do the business yet again after an outstanding and unexpected start against hipsters’ favourites Austria.
No glorious pub outing like other occasions, this dingy student hovel will have to do for the games on Saturday.
Prediction: Iceland 1 – 1 Hungary
Despite a euphoric victory last time out, I can see the teams cancelling each other out even though this will potentially be Iceland’s best shot at victory in the group stage.