Jon Dadi Bodvarsson’s Iceland will begin their quest to go all the way on Saturday with a 14:00 (16:00 local time) clash against Argentina in the Russian capital’s Spartak Stadium, live on ITV. Here’s everything you need to know about the Reading striker’s build-up to the World Cup opener.
As expected, all the pre-match build-up has been focused on Argentina, who cancelled their final pre-tournament friendly with Israel due to protests and go to the World Cup off the back of a 4-0 win over Haiti on May 30 and a 6-1 hammering away to Spain back on March 27.
One key element to Jorge Sampaoli’s thoughts has, according to Associated Press, been Iceland’s height advantage. The minnows are the tallest team going to Russia with an average height of just over 6 foot (Jon Dadi is 6ft 2in) with Argentina among the shortest, weighing in at just over 5ft 10in on average.
“Over the past week, we have been working on specific issues like set pieces,” Argentina goalkeeper Nahuel Guzman.
It means that centre-backs Nicolas Otamendi and Marcos Rojo shouldn’t be the ones looking after Bodvarsson and Iceland’s other tall threats at key set-pieces, where central midfielders Maximiliano Meza and Lucas Biglia will have greater responsibility. It certainly means high balls into the box are to be a big asset for the islanders in Moscow.
For Iceland, Bodvarsson’s role in the game depends on whether coach Heimir Hallgrimsson opts for a two-man attack or five-man midfield, the latter potentially seeing Alfred Finnbogasson win out for a place in the line-up. Reading academy graduate Sami Fridjonsson, also in the squad after impressing with Norwegian club Valerenga, is set to be on the bench.
Iceland are back out at 12/1 with some bookies (via Oddschecker) to beat La Albiceleste with the draw going at 4/1, trailing behind a 4/11 Argentina victory. It’s safe to say their immaculate Euro 2016 is not something many predict to happen again. To win the trophy, Iceland’s odds are 300/1, so their chances are rated as worse than Peru’s but the same as Egypt’s and better than Japan’s.
Of Jon Dadi himself, he can be snapped up at 18/1 to notch the first goal on Saturday and 13/2 to register at any time. If you really want to back the Reading man, he’s 750/1 to win the Golden Boot. As always, and especially with that last one, #GambleAware.
Should he get on the pitch, Bodvarsson will break a run of 11 years, 11 months and 358 days without a Reading man playing in the World Cup, when Bobby Convey played for the USA in a 2-1 defeat to Ghana on June 22, 2006. Adam Federici was called up by Australia in 2010 but was reserved to the bench throughout their stay in South Africa.