My searchlight in today’s piece is on Iceland, one of the countries featuring in the same group with Nigeria, Croatia and Argentina at the Russia 2018 World Cup.
Iceland became a Kingdom on 1 December, 1918 and became a Republic on 17 June, 1944.
Iceland is a Nordic lsland country in the North Atlantic, with a population of 348,580 but not up to 400,000 inhabitants.
At the 2016 European championship, Iceland’s national team surprised everbody by reaching the quarter finals.
At the World Cup in Russia this summer, Iceland will be looking to pull another surprise. They are already thinking about the global event.
“We are up against Argentina, Croatia and Nigeria, so it won’t be easy. But our players believe in themselves and will be determined to give everything they’ve got for Iceland,” that’s a bold statement from their camp.
So if Iceland are going to cause a stir in Russia, it won’t be due to their technical skills, but rather through their fighting spirit and passion.
Let’s check out their statistics;
•Head coach: Heimir Hallgrimsson
•Fifa ranking: 22
•Number of World Cup appearances: none
•Best finish: 2018 is Iceland’s debut
•Player to watch: Gylfi Sigurdsson (Everton)
Iceland World Cup fixtures
•16 June: Vs Argentina at Spartak Stadium, Moscow (2pm, ITV)
•22 June: Vs Nigeria at Volgograd Arena, Volgograd (4pm, BBC)
•26 June: Vs Croatia at Rostov Arena, Rostov-On-Don (7pm, BBC).
An interesting thing about them is their teamwork. Iceland is the smallest nation ever to qualify for the World Cup and it’s an understatement to say they will give it their all. It means the team, especially their players should not to be underestimated.
However, based on on-field prediction in the Group stages, I can’t see them beating Argentina but Iceland could upset either Croatia or Nigeria. And truth be told, winning the World Cup could be a dream for Iceland, for me it’s 200/1 in odds.
Talking about tactical flexibility Iceland are somehow crafty.
As with any formation, the 4-4-2 can be adjusted to several others with simple positioning switches.
If the second striker drops deep it becomes 4-5-1, or 4-2-3-1, depending on how we look at it.
If the two wingers join the top striker it becomes 4-3-3 and if one of the central midfielders comes forward – as Gylfi Sigurdsson does; it can turn into a 4-1-3-2 formation.
Iceland’s first goal against USA in a friendly in January shows a subtle twist on the 4-4-2 they’ve been working on.
The ball starts with the goalkeeper from a goalkick.
The chap highlighted below is a central midfielder and as Iceland come out from the defence, they’re actually playing a pattern that looks more like a 3-3-2-2 formation.
Expectedly, this will all change depending on how far they get on the pitch and their end result may justify what they play but the Nigerian team must be ready for any surprise.
Hope you enjoyed the piece, join me again as my next article is on the way.
It’s about the profile of the teams taking taking part in the Russia 2018 World Cup.
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Coach Peter Ijeh