In our Iceland Preview: World Cup 2018, we share our analysis about this Iceland team who are playing in their first-ever World Cup tournament.

Iceland Preview: World Cup 2018

Full Squad

Goalkeepers: Hannes Halldorsson, Runar Runarsson, Frederik Schram

Defenders: Kari Arnason, Holmar Eyjolfsson, Rurik Gislason, Sverrir Ingason, Hordur Magnusson, Birkir Saevarsson, Ragnar Sigurdsson, Ari Skulason

Midfielders: Birkir Bjarnason, Samuel Fridjonsson, Johann Gudmundsson, Aron Gunnarsson, Emil Hallfredsson, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Olafur Skulason, Arnor Traustason

Forwards: Jon Bodvarsson, Alfred Finnbogason, Albert Gudmundsson, Bjorn Sigurdarson

  • Manager: Heimir Hallgrimsson
  • Captain: Aron Gunnarsson
  • Best Finish: First Appearance

Likely starting lineup

Iceland Preview: World Cup 2018

Analysis

In what was their first ever outing at a major tournament, it’d be fair to say Iceland caught the imagination at the European Championships in 2016.

Not only did the world catch on to their tremendous Icelandic clap celebration and video clips of fanatical commentators go viral, the Strakarnir Okkar performed admirably on the pitch. Up until their loss against France in the quarter-finals, they drew with eventual winners Portugal, beat Austria and, most memorably of all, sent England packing.

It’s a testament to the outstanding work done by the Icelandic setup that this team is now back-to-back participants at major tournaments. After the way they played in France two years ago, on their World Cup debut no opponent will be taking the Scandinavian outfit lightly; they are the smallest nation to ever feature in the competition.

Since the Euros there have been some changes, with Hallgrimsson taking over the ship Lars Lagerback had previously steered in such an exciting direction.

While Lagerback was welded to a 4-4-2 setup, the new coach has been a little more versatile against stronger opponents, with Iceland tapping into a 4-4-1-1 formation at times. This allows Gylfi Sigurdsson, undoubtedly the side’s most accomplished performer, more freedom in the final third.

The worry for Iceland may be that with Sigurdsson further forward, they may get overwhelmed in midfield, whether that be technically by Argentina and Croatia, or physically by Nigeria.

Even so, this is a team capable of conquering long odds and although some nations making their World Cup debuts may be a little nervous, Iceland weren’t daunted when they stepped out onto the field in 2016. They may not have enough to get through the groups in Russia, but you’d be foolish to say so with any great certainty.

 

Key Man – Gylfi Sigurdsson

Iceland Preview: World Cup 2018

One of the merits of Iceland’s tweak in formation is that it allows Sigurdsson to play in his preferred position at the hub of the team.

The concern for the coach and his team-mates is that it’s difficult to assess what state the Everton man is in heading into this tournament in terms of form and fitness. After all, his season was curtailed in March due to injury and as such, he may not be in a position to play 90 minutes from the off at the World Cup.

For Sigurdsson that injury came at the worst possible time, as he was beginning to finally build some momentum as an Everton player in a No. 10 berth. Previously in the campaign he’d been hung out on the left flank and never looked comfortable in a team bereft of attacking impetus.

If he is fit come Iceland’s opener then they have a game changer on their books, as Sigurdsson can alter a match with a swing of his wicked right boot.

When it comes to set-pieces the former Swansea man is deadly, while opponents would be well versed to prevent him from getting his head up and shooting within 30 yards of goal. All of Iceland will be desperate to see him at his best this summer and sprinkle the stardust that’ll complement Iceland’s rigid structure.

 

Iceland’s Group Stage fixtures

Saturday, June 16

Argentina vs. Iceland, 9am, FOX, Telemundo, Sling Blue and fubo (7-day free trial)

Friday, June 22

Nigeria vs. Iceland, 11am, FOX, Telemundo, Sling Blue and fubo (7-day free trial)

Tuesday, June 26

Iceland vs. Croatia, 2pm, FS1, Universo, Sling Blue and fubo (7-day free trial)

 

Iceland’s path to the final

If Iceland wins Group D, their Round of 16 game will be against the country that finishes second from Group C which will either be France, Australia, Denmark or Peru. If Iceland wins that Round of 16 game, Iceland will enter the quarterfinal stage with a game against the team that is victorious between the winner of Group B (Spain, Portugal, Morocco or Iran) and the team that finishes second in Group A (either Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt or Uruguay). If Iceland advances to the semi-final stage, it’ll play the winner of the quarterfinal that comes out of the F1 vs. E2 versus H1 vs. G2 series.

If Iceland finishes second in Group D, Iceland will play the team that finishes first in Group C (either France, Australia, Denmark or Peru). If Iceland wins that game, it would be in the quarterfinal against the team that is victorious between the winner of Group A (either Russia, Saudi Arabia, Uruguay or Egypt) and the team that finishes second in Group B (either Morocco, Iran, Spain or Portugal). If Iceland advances to the semi-final stage, it’ll play the winner of the quarterfinal that comes out of the E1 vs. F2 versus G1 vs. H2 series.

 

SEE MORE:

• Previews for all 32 World Cup teams
• World Cup Bracket (free download)
• World Cup groups
• World Cup TV schedule

 

Iceland World Cup shirt (home)

The home jersey is in traditional colors blue, red and white, representing the country’s volcanoes, ice and water.

“Fyrir Island” (“For Iceland”), is printed inside the collar. The national flag is on the upper back.

See more details about Iceland World Cup shirt

 

Iceland World Cup shirt (away)

The away jersey is white, representing the country’s icy landscape. Mini dots of red and blue blend on the sleeves, as the lava of its numerous volcanoes blends with ice, adding to the water that runs throughout the island.

“Fyrir Island” (“For Iceland”), is printed inside the collar. The national flag is on the upper back.

See more details about Iceland World Cup shirt

 

Iceland World Cup shirt (third)

The red third jersey is a nod to the fiery volcanoes that dot the island. Blue and white on the collar for the “ice that slowly melts turning into water.” Mini dots of red and blue blend on the sleeves, as the lava of the volcanoes blends with ice.

“Fyrir Island” (“For Iceland”), is printed inside the collar. The national flag is on the upper back.

See more details about Iceland World Cup shirt

 

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