Iceland is fast becoming the Leicester City of the international stage.
We all know how that ended.
[ MORE: Story of EURO 2016 so far ]
Now, Iceland may not win EURO 2016 but they have already succeeded in the eyes of the players and the fans. Competing in their first-ever major tournament, Iceland has drawn against Portugal and Hungary and then beat Austria in Paris on Wednesday to seal second spot in Group F.
They has set up a Round of 16 clash with England in Nice next Monday and Swansea City attacker Gylfi Sigurdsson revealed the squad is facing no pressure whatsoever.
“We have no pressure on us, that’s the main thing,” Sigurdsson said. “If you look at England, if they were to lose to us there will he headlines back in England. We are just here to enjoy the tournament and the last 16. It’s an amazing feeling and we just want to keep going. We are aware that we are probably the second team everyone supports in the tournament.
“We are a small nation that nobody expects anything of so we want to keep those people happy and go a little bit further in the tournament. We are the same size as Coventry. Is it Leicester? We are still underdogs.”
Iceland has been relishing its underdog tag in France, with their fans causing quite the scene in the stands, their team tough to beat and clinical in attack and everyone falling in love with the minnows. Let’s remember, the country has a population of just over 320,000 and it is estimated that nearly nine percent of their population has been following the team in France. Remarkable.
With no pressure — just like Leicester — how far can Iceland go?
They will certainly fancy their chances against a misfiring England who struggled to break down Russia and Slovakia in the group stages. Iceland will prove to be a similar obstacle as they’ll sit back, soak up pressure and look to pick off the Three Lions from set piece opportunities.
Sigurdsson will lead the charge with significant Premier League experience under his belt, while captain Aron Gunnarsson has also played in the PL for Cardiff City. Despite coming from a small island in the northern Atlantic, Iceland is making a huge splash at this tournament and the majority of their players play in the top-flight across France, Germany, Italy and Scandinavia. Yes, Portugal, Hungary and Austria were not the toughest opponents during group play but they looked hungry to achieve and tough to break down.
Unlike Cristiano Ronaldo, England should not underestimate Iceland.