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Croatia vs Iceland: World Cup play-off second-leg preview

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After a stalemate in the first leg between Croatia v Iceland in Reykjavik, Iceland are one good performance away from qualifying as the smallest ever nation to reach the finals. 

Despite Croatia dominating for most the second half with the hosts down to ten men after Olafur Ingi Skulason had been sent off, Iceland held on valiantly and will at least have a chance of making it to Brazil tonight. 

But Croatia's former player and current head coach Niko Kovac believes his side are the better team and will dominate again on home turf.

He said: "We knew that Iceland had a strong mentality and they proved as much, but their 'keeper also made two or three very good saves. 

"We said before the game we were looking to score. We didn't, but neither did they. 

"The impression remains we are the better team and have a better overall repertoire. They play very simple football, with vertical switching, which is always risky. 

"I'm confident we'll repeat our dominant display and ultimately get to Brazil."

However, Iceland's Aron Gunnarsson - who ply's his trade in the Premier League with Welsh side Cardiff - insists the home side could crack under the weight of expectation. 

"We know there's a lot of pressure on Croatia. We've noticed in the media here that they're not happy with the team, and they weren't satisfied with the first leg. 

"We have to put more pressure on them, because we are not afraid of anything and we intend to make our dreams come true by getting to the World Cup," he said. 

However, history is not on the side of the country with a population the size of Coventry, with Croatia running out 4-0 winners in 2005 during a World Cup qualifier, with new coach Kovac on the scoresheet twice that day. 

He could make two changes to the team he put out in Reykjavik, with Ivo Ilicevic and Eduardo making way for Mateo Kovacic and Ivcia Olic. 

For the visitors, former Premier League legend Eidur Gudjohnsen could play a part by replacing the injured Kolbeinn Sigthorsson, with midfielder Skulason absent through suspension. 

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This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of GiveMeSport.com or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. GiveMeSport.com and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

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