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Euro 2016 Iceland Preview

A look at Iceland's national football team going into the Euro 2016 with a touch of Football Manager 2016.

By on Jun 09, 2016   2679 views   0 comments
EURO 2016 - Euro 2016 Iceland Preview
Iceland have reached their first major tournament in the form of Euro 2016, and it's evident nobody fancies them as an outside bet. The side have progressed well in recent years and have more widely known names within the squad than in usual years. Iceland's qualification for the Euros was impressive, with both a home and away with against Netherlands who ultimately did not qualify. Their wins against the Dutch have them labelled in the tournament, in a way as 'giant killers' and their footballing style just might continue the label.

For their first performance on a world stage, Iceland were drawn into Group F, where they face Portugal, Austria and Hungary. This is not necessarily a strong group and if Iceland perform well they could qualify in 2nd place or even third if other results permit. Iceland have the lowest FIFA ranking within the group, sitting at 35th, compared to the 8th of Portugal, 10th of Austria and 20th of Hungary. The side have not really impressed within their pre-tournament friendlies with losses coming against Denmark, who failed to qualify, as well as the United Arab Emirates and United States national sides.


Key Players



Gylfi Sigurðsson is perhaps the most well known name in the entire squad and could be considered a household name across England. The midfielder, now 26, has made 30 appearances for the Icelandic side and scored 9 goals for them. He made his first appearance for Iceland in 2010 and scored his first goal for them in 2011. Sigurðsson made 37 appearances for his side Swansea in the 15/16 season and scored 11 goals, showing just what an influential player he is to the outcome of games, despite his position.

His ability on the pitch is perhaps unmatched in the Icelandic side, with his best areas being his shots from long range and his tireless work rate and stamina that often keep him performing for a full 90 minutes. If he can remain fit at the Euros, he will certainly give the other sides in Group F a run for their money. There are some strong, experienced defenders within the group, especially with Portugal in the form of Carvalho and Pepe, and he will need confidence to form against them.



Iceland, like many clubs at the Euros are bringing players with a vast amount of international and club level experience. Eiður Guðjohnsen is Iceland's answer to this. The forward who has played for teams ranging from Bolton Wanderers to Barcelona is a journeyman goalscorer and this will perhaps be his first and only European international tournament in his career.

Far past his peak, Guðjohnsen is now 37 and will be looking to have one final bow on the international stage. He is currently playing for Molde and has made 11 appearances, scoring two goals. It is perhaps unlikely that he will start every game, or even play in every game, but his mentality within the game is something that should not be reckoned with and he will be a great leader for the side whenever he is on the pitch.



Alfreð Finnbogason will look to be Iceland's top scorer at the Euros, after displaying impressive form for Augsburg during 2016. The 27-year-old has 34 caps for Iceland and could certainly be the difference between crashing out in the group stage or progressing through to the knock-out stages. His best form in recent years is during his time at Heerenveen where he netted 53 times in 65 games.

Finnbogason on his day is a clinical finisher, and knows perfectly how to anticipate the ball and the flow of the game. He is perhaps the number one candidate to appear up front in many of Iceland's group games.


Player to Watch



This is a seriously important competition for Iceland captain Aron Gunnarson, who has held the title for four years. Under his captaincy, history has already been made in that Iceland managed to qualify for the play-off round of the 2012 World Cup, as well as qualifying for the Euros this year. The match that secured Iceland's Euro qualification also resulted in Gunnarson being sent off, leaving the door open for him to make a mends for his mistake by continuing to make history for the side. At 27 years of age, he has plenty of time ahead of him and is still a central part of Cardiff City's squad, but this being the first tournament, he will want to make his mark at whatever cost to ensure some kind of history is made.


The Manager



Lars Lagerbäck has been manager of Iceland for 5 years, after a one year stint as manager of Nigeria and a nine year reign as manager of Sweden from 2000-2009. He is known for being technically and tactically proficient, which was seen as Iceland were able to coast past many teams in their group such as the Netherlands. Lagerbäck has not achieved anything in terms of silverware in his career, but he has managed to make history and he will want to continue to do that as much as possible at the tournament.

He has perhaps made the mistake of riling up the best team in the group in the form of Portugal, saying that some of their players are 'actors of a Hollywood caliber' while referring to Ronaldo and more significantly Pepe. This could be his downfall, but his tactical knowledge should give him the advantage over the lesser two teams in the group.


Prediction

In football, anything can happen. Just as we saw with Leicester City winning the Premier League this season. There is, somewhere and somehow, a chance that Iceland will win the Euros as a dark horse, just like Greece all those years ago. It is unlikely that they will get out of the group stage, but if they can perform well against the weaker side of Hungary and play with confidence on the pitch, there is no reason why they cannot get out of their group in either second or via being one of the four best third-ranked sides.

They will almost definitely lose to Portugal, but could quite easily perform against the likes of Austria, and especially Hungary and we could see Iceland perhaps being one of the only debutantes at the tournament progressing to the knock-out stage. You can be checking Euro's group standings at bethut.co.uk.

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