Thor Akureyri vs IBV Vestmannaeyjar
Football : Icelandic Cup : The Valitor Cup, Semi-finals
Wednesday July 27 2011, Kickoff 19:15 (GMT)
The Cup has been ongoing since late in April and is now reaching its climax. Four teams are left, two being in the top part of the top league (IBV and KR), one in the lower part of the top league (Thor) and one from League one (BI/Bolungarvik).
Will the Cup produce something special this year?
First of all, let's look at Thor's route to the semis. The Top league teams come in at the final 32 stage where Thor trashed a lower league team, Leiknir, 5-0 playing indoors on neautral ground. In final 16 Thor hosted Vikingur Reykjavik and beat them 3-1 scoring the last two goals in the last 10 minutes.
In the quarterfinals luck was again on Thor's side since they got the home game against Grindavik. The game was extreamly tough where Thor got the lead but Grindavik leveled before halftime. It stayed 1-1 until the last minute of extra time when Thor got the deciding goal which continued their amazing run in the Cup this season.
This is by far the furthest Thor Akureyri have reached in the Cup in a very long time and in past 10 years they haven't gone further than final 16. Hence, they have nothing to lose but all to win against a strong IBV side.
Thor Akureyri have been quite lucky with the draw so far. IBV will be their third Top league oponents and once again Thor get the home game. This fact has undoubtedly helped them in progressing so far because Thor Akureyri aren't as solid on the road as they are at their homeground in Akureyri.
While being 3-1-2, 12:9 at home in the league Thor are only 1-1-4, 5:14 when travelling. Interestingly enough IBV Vestmannaeyjar are one of their victims at Akureyri where Thor beat them 2-1 after leading 2-0. They made a 2-2 draw against FH Hafnarfjordur but lost 0-3 to a very strong Valur. However, Thor have now played two home games in a row beating Keflavik and Vikingur 2-1 and 6-1 respectively.
Before the trashing of Vikingur Thor hadn't been scoring too much but if their goalscoring keeps picking up it will help them a lot since their defense has been very weak. Conceding in both final 16 and the quartefinals they have conceded in all 12 league games except way back in round 2 against a miserable Fram side.
Thor will have to keep tight in the back even though IBV haven't been scoring too much especially on the road. On the other hand, IBV's defense is one of the strongest on the league so Thor will not have it easy in getting the ball passed them.
Looking at Thor's games against the three strongest defenses in the league they have managed to score three goals against them; 1 away at KR, 2 at home against IBV and none at home against Valur.
Thor Akureyri will know that they must fight like never before in this season to eliminate IBV and they will most certainly be very physical to outplay IBV's more quality football.
IBV's road to the semis has been tougher in the way that they haven't gotten a single home game. In the final 32 they beat a way lower league team 0-3 before beating strong Valur Reykjavik 2-3 in a game where IBV was 0-3 up in the first 30 minutes.
Then they got yet another way game in the quarterfinals but this time against League one, Fjolnir, who they beat 1-2 with all three goals coming in the last 20 minutes and the deciding goal 5 minutes before the final whistle.
This means IBV Vestmannaeyjar are into the semis for the first time since 2002 so they have already produced their best results in years just like Thor Akureyri.
Now IBV Vestmannaeyjar face at least as equally tough task as they did when visiting Valur. They must be ready for a very physical game and they know it will be very difficult to beat Thor at Akureyri.
IBV got a solid 0-2 win at Fram in last round in the league where, for the first time this season, changed their defensive tactics a bit. Up until the Fram game they had been playing with a high pressure defense winning the ball high on the pitch but maybe due to some lack of stamina they decided to change from that. It worked 100% against Fram.
IBV have been quite solid in the league and currently sit in 3rd place behind Valur and KR. Their record on the road is 3 0 2, 6:4 while being more solid at home with 4 1 1, 10:5. IBV's strength is their defense which has only conceded 9 goals in the league, the third least.
However, their goalscoring haven't been good enough and they have only scored around third of their goals away from home. Now facing a fairly weak defense they should be able to overcome that and produce some chances.
IBV lost here earlier this season and they will try to make certain it won't happen again knowing that the Cup final is at the stake. Before importanly winning Fram in last league round they had lost away to Thor and after that 0-2 to Grindavik.
IBV play better football than Thor but the latter are very physical and IBV will know this. They will have to use all their skills to play the ball fast between them to avoid too many clashes with Thor's players. They will probably press very hard in the first 20 minutes or so to try and get the lead and hold on to it with their tight and strong defense.
Head to head
Not many years in the same league so not much to go on. Like already stated Thor won here 2-1 earlier this season.
The Betting Verdict
First of all remember that this is a Cup game. It means all or nothing situation. Both teams have already reached further than in years so they really have nothing to lose but all to gain.
Keep in mind that Thor have been hard to beat at home but their somewhat of a weak defense might give IBV more hope. However, Thor have conceded less at home than away (9 vs 14) while IBV have only scored 6 of their 16 goals away.
The first 20 minutes might be fast with both teams trying hard to press for a goal. If no goal is scored in the opening minutes the game might slow down with neither team willing to risk anything.
Since this is a cup game and IBV have a bit more experience I'm going to make them a tad more favorites but Thor' strength and physical power at home is still hard to overlook.
If a goal is scored in the first 20-30 minutes I'm pretty certain it will go overs but if it's still 0-0 after the first part I think the game will slow down and become very physical with unders being likely.
Currently there are not many bets to choose from and IBV is a bit under value with only aoround 2.1. Therefore, I'm leaning towards Thor who I think offer more value.
PERCENTAGE ESTIMATE :
Thor 35% - Draw 35% - IBV 30%
FIXED ODDS BETTING :
Side bet :
Consider the draw @ 3.20
HANDICAP BETTING :
Main bet :
Take Thor Akureyri to win
with the +1 handicap @ 1.60