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Euro 2016 profile: Plucky Iceland to rely on past and present stars


Our latest Euro 2016 profile on Iceland looks at the Nordic nation reaching their first-ever major tournament. Gylfi Sigurdsson can help them upset the odds.

We’re profiling all 24 teams that will be competing in France, so punters will have an expert view as Europe’s finest collide.

This time we focus on Iceland, who upset the odds to qualify for their first ever international tournament.

The Nordic nation now face a tricky, but winnable Group F comprising of Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal, Austria and Hungary. BetVictor have Iceland at 6/1 to top their pool.

History at the Euros: This is their first-ever qualification for the European Championship finals.

Prior to reaching Euro 2016, Iceland came closest in in 2004, drawing with Germany and finishing a point behind Scotland, who took the play-off place but got thrashed by the Dutch.

This time around, Iceland finished second in their qualifying group behind the Czech Republic. The campaign saw them beat the Netherlands twice, with Gylfi Sigurdsson scoring every goal in both wins. Turkey also lost to them 3-0 in Reykjavik.

Iceland has roughly the same population as Coventry, so just getting to the tournament is a massive achievement.

Head coach: Lars Lagerback and Heimir Hallgrimsson are joint managers. Lagerback led the nation to a play-off against Croatia for a place at the 2014 World Cup, which Iceland lost 2-0. That campaign was then their best in history, and Lagerback was later persuaded to stay on as co-boss with his promoted former assistant.

Key player: Midfielder Sigurdsson will no doubt be Iceland’s key player. The skillful midfielder has registered an impressive 12 goals in 35 caps for his country and is enjoying another fine season for Swansea.

Sigurdsson had an excellent qualifying campaign and, as noted above, scored home and away to the Netherlands.

Betfred have Iceland big outright outsiders at 100/1, but strange things have happened. When Greece won the tournament in 2004, you could get odds of up to 250/1.

Rising Star: Jon Dadi Bodvarsson has shown real glimpses of quality that could see him shine in France.

The versatile forward possesses a fantastic first touch and can powerfully finish with either foot.

Dadi Bodvarsson moved to German club Kaiserslautern this year after departing from Norwegian outfit Viking Stavanger.

Wildcard: The ex-Bolton Wanderers, Chelsea and Barcelona forward may be 37, but Eidur Gudjohnsen will still be an important part of any Icelandic success.

After an 18-month absence from the national team, he made a goal-scoring return to action in March 2015. Gudjohnsen is Iceland’s record marksman with 25 in 84 caps.

However, Kolbeinn Sigthorsson who plays for Ligue 1 side Nantes, is on track to beat Gudjohnsen’s record – he has a fantastic 18 goals in 35 caps and is only 26 years old.

Confirmed Iceland Euro 2016 fixtures:
All kick-offs are British Summer time (BST)
Tuesday, June 14th: Portugal v Iceland (20:00); Stade Geoffroy Guichard, Saint-Etienne, BBC
Saturday, June 18th: Iceland v Hungary (17:00); Stade Velodrome, Marseille, BBC
Wednesday, June 22th: Iceland vs Austria (17:00); Stade de France, Saint-Denis, BBC

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