World Cup 2018 Iceland team profile: How they qualified, star man, World Cup record, fixtures
Iceland have qualified for their first World Cup, can they exceed expectations like at Euro 2016.
- Honours: N/A
- FIFA Ranking: 22
HOW THEY QUALIFIED
Iceland not only qualified for the World Cup, but won their group ahead of Croatia, (who they will face again this summer), Ukraine and Turkey, scoring 16 goals in 10 games in the process. However, their group, containing Argentina, Croatia and Nigeria is one of the hardest to call, especially as Iceland have shown an appetite for an upset.
STAR MAN - Gylfi Sigurdsson
Sigurdsson had a tough year in the Premier League after leaving Swansea for Everton, but there is also a strong case for everyone having a tough year in Everton this season. A return of 46 goals and 37 assist in 209 Premier League games and another 18 goals in 55 games for Iceland is evidence that Sigurdsson is a versatile and dangerous player. He'll need to shake the cobwebs after a trying year at Goodison Park, though.
Gylfi Sigurdsson of Everton during the Premier League match between Burnley and Everton at Turf Moor on March 3, 2018 in Burnley, England.Getty Images
NEXT BIG THING - Samuel Fridjonsson
Seen as defensive midfielder, Fridjonsson has proven that he can play almost anywhere on the field if needed. He has a relentless work-rate and can score the odd goal here and there. Has developed into one of Norwegian side Valerenga's best players since arriving from Reading. Iceland might be one of the teams that build their success around the collective more than most others, but Fridjonsson has potential to become a pillar in the national team, and if he shines in the World Cup, it might be difficult for Valerenga to keep him.
THE COACH - Heimir Hallgrimsson
Head coach Heimir Hallgrimsson of Iceland looks on against Peru during an International Friendly at Red Bull Arena on March 27, 2018 in Harrison, New Jersey.Getty Images
Hallgrimsson, who is a part time dentist, prefers a classic 4-4-2, but has also opted for a lone striker in front of a no. 10. Having only coached an Icelandic club team prior to the national team, it makes him the most inexperienced manager in the World Cup, and he had a five-year gap between coaching his final game for IBV Vestmannaeyjar in 2011 and taking over the national team in 2016. It hasn’t been a problem so far, however.
WORLD CUP HISTORY
Having been the fairy tale story of Euro 2016, Iceland now enter their first ever World Cup. Iceland reached the quarter-finals back in France, taking five points in the group stage, to finish second ahead of the European Champions to be, Portugal, and then eliminating England in the round of 16 after winning 2-1.
For a nation with just above 300,000 citizens and less than ideal circumstances for playing football, just qualifying for these tournaments is nothing short of sensational.
REASONS FOR OPTIMISM
If for nothing else, the Thunder Clap.
- June 16th:Argentina
- June 22nd: Nigeria
- June 26th: Croatia