Euro 2016 Team Preview: Iceland

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After failing to defeat Croatia in a 2014 World Cup play-off Iceland were more determined that ever to make their mark on the international scene. So after navigating a tricky qualifying group they exorcised their play-off hoodoo to qualify for their first ever international tournament. As the smallest population to ever qualify for a major tournament (326,000) Group F might prove to be a little too much for them but they are certainly an international force on the up.

How They Qualified: As yet another surprise package, definitely the most entertaining, in what has to have been the most enthralling qualifiers in years, Iceland finished 2nd above both Turkey and Holland in Group A whom they defeated on home turf 3-0 and 2-0 respectively. Key man Gylfi Sigursson top scored with 6.

Tournament History: N/A

Coach: Lars Lagerbäck and Heimir Hallgrímsson.

Joint managers never inspires confidence, but if I was to choose one of the two to wear the trousers it has to be Lagerbeck due to his record of taking Sweden to 3 European Championships and 2 World Cups.

Nickname: Strákarnir okkar (Our boys)

Key Man: Gylfi Sigurdsson.

Those who watch the EPL will know all about the creative and technically gifted link between midfield and attack. His career took a little bit of a de-tour when a move from Swansea to Tottenham Hotspur didn’t work out but he’s back in South Wales and has enjoyed a positive season where he is invaluable to The Swans’ fortunes.

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I know, it was news to us as well to find our this guy’s still going. He is still available for the national team after a brief spell back at Bolton Wanderers.

One To Watch: Kolbeinn Sigthorsson.

The Nantes center-forward hasn’t enjoyed his best season in Ligue 1 but undoubtedly has a host of talent to bring to the table in Euro 2106, demonstrated by his career in the Eredivise with Ajax and AZ where he was frequently on the scoresheet thanks to his aerial prowess. Sigthorsson is likely to start in the No9 role, ahead of Eidur Gudjohnsen (pictured above) who is still playing in China and expected to be included in the squad.

Fixtures:

June 14, 3 p.m. vs. Portugal

June 18, 12 p.m. vs. Hungary

June 22, 12 p.m. vs. Austria

Squad:

Goalkeepers: Ingvar Jónsson (Sandefjord/Norway), Ögmundur Kristinsson (Hammarby IF/Sweden), Hannes Þór Halldórsson (FK Bodø Glimt/Norway).

Defenders: Hjörtur Hermannsson (IFK Göteborg/Sweden), Sverrir Ingi Ingason (Lokeren/Belgium), Hörður Björgvin Magnússon (Cesena/Italy), Haukur Heiðar Hauksson (AIK/Sweden), Ari Freyr Skúlason (OB/Denmark), Ragnar Sigurðsson (Krasnodar/Russia), Birkir Már Sævarsson (Hammarby IF/Sweden), Kári Árnason (Malmö FF/Sweden).

Midfielders: Arnór Ingvi Traustason (IFK Norrköping/Sweden), Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson (Charlton Athletic/England), Rúnar Már Sigurjónsson (GIF Sundsvall/Sweden), Gylfi Sigurðsson (Swansea City/Wales), Aron Gunnarsson (Cardiff City/Wales), Birkir Bjarnason (Basel/Switzerland), Theódór Elmar Bjarnason (AGF/Denmark), Emil Hallfreðsson (Udinese/Italy).

Forwards: Jón Daði Böðvarsson (Kaiserslautern/Germany), Kolbeinn Sigþórsson (Nantes/France), Alfreð Finnbogason (Augsburg/Germany), Eiður Guðjohnsen (Molde FK/Norway).

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