The incredible Icelandic journey continues this Sunday as they face hosts France in the quarterfinals of EURO 2016.
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Iceland, once again, will be the heavy underdogs against the much-fancied French team and if they bow out in the quarterfinals they would still look back on a remakrable run in their first-ever major tournament.
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However, there are many reasons to believe this isn’t the end for Iceland and their band of incredible fans.
1. Being clinical
This Icelandic team just doesn’t know when it is beaten and even though they’ve had to endure plenty of tough times at this tournament as they sit back and defend for most matches, they always look dangerous in attack. When they’ve got chances to score, their conversion has been phenomenal and if they get three or four good chances against the French I’d expect the to bury two of them.
The Swansea City star has only scored once at EURO 2016 but his influence on this team is huge. Sigurdsson has that extra bit of quality to unlock a somewhat shay French defense and his set piece delivery will be crucial. He has also sacrificed plenty of his playmaking responsibilities to sit in the center of midfield alongside Aron Gunarrsson and without N'Golo Kante, France could struggle to contain him.
3. That chant
Yes, the videos of it are awesome, but until you’ve been in the center of it, you don’t fully appreciate how powerful the chant which has became the trademark of Iceland’s run at EURO 2016 is. For opposition players and fans, it seems a little haunting…
I took the video below on-site in Nice on Monday as Iceland beat England and the rhythmic unison of this chant typifies what this Iceland team is all about: togetherness. It seems to lift the team on the pitch and you only have to look at this video to see how together the fans and players are as they celebrate at the final whistle.
4. France has blown hot and cold
If I was Iceland, I wouldn’t be too scared of playing the French. Yes, they are on home soil but much like their last opponents England, the French have blown hot and cold so far.
In the Round of 16 they struggled and trailed the Republic of Ireland in the first half and then stormed back in the second half. They also conceded plenty of chances against Romania and Albania. Didier Deschamps’ boys have already been talking about not underestimating Iceland and it seems as though they will be more focused for this clash. That said, there’s no denying that France hasn’t been at its best and you can’t exactly turn form on and off like a light switch.
5. Because it is the year of the underdog
Another team which wore blue and was from a place that had a population over just over 330,000 did pretty well this season too. I’m of course making the comparison to Leicester City and Iceland could continue this incredible year of the underdogs. (Though they shouldn’t think about Leicester too much, according to this piece).
Can they actually win EURO 2016? Probably not as even if they get past France they will face Germany. That said, Iceland’s players, coaches and fans believe they aren’t done yet. I met many Iceland fans in France last week who believed they would win it all this summer. Straight up. There is a quite confidence about the Icelandic people in general and in this season, of all season’s, why can’t they win it all?