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25 Jun 2018

Iceland vs Croatia: Key Battles

Iceland vs Croatia: Key Battles

Croatia are already through, while Iceland will need a victory to progress ahead of this meeting in Rostov-on-Don.

REUTERS/Anton Vaganov

Progression through to the Round of 16 for Croatia has been seamless. They were comfortable winners against Nigeria in their opening game and then dispatched a hapless Argentina side with ease on Thursday night.

For Iceland, things have been more difficult. The minnows - who, you will now have been told by every commentator and pundit at the World Cup, have a population of a little over 300,000 - earned a commendable draw against Argentina in their opener. That, it seemed, put them in a strong position, but they were beaten 2-0 by Nigeria in their following game.

A win for Heimir Hallgrímsson's side against Croatia, then, is essential. Even then, they will rely on Argentina getting a result in their meeting with Nigeria.

Croatia go into this game knowing that a point will guarantee top spot in Group D. They have impressed so far: midfielders Ivan Rakitic and Luka Modric have earned widespread plaudits, and they are yet to concede a goal. 

Iceland might be encouraged, though, by memories of qualification. They finished above Croatia, who needed to secure their place in the finals with a playoff.

Here are three key battles that could decide Tuesday's encounter: