Having recovered from the berserk mushroom induced freakout that led to a 6-0 pounding at the hands of the scampering Swiss—as the Iceland team wandering the pitch like zombies, tripping balls in a psychedelic wonderland as the shots rained past them—”Strákarnir okkur” (“Our boys”) are ready to get back on the horse tonight. In the Laugardalsvöllur battlefield in Reykjavík, Iceland’s fiercest Viking eleven will embody the spirit of the Old Ásatrú Gods against World Cup semi finalists—and wall-to-wall mithering millionaire fancy Dans—Belgium.
The clash is Iceland’s second foray into the brand new UEFA Nation’s League tournament, and their second game under the newly appointed Swedish manager Erik Hamren. Nobody is sure exactly what the four-tier Nation’s League tournament is for, exactly, although it does seem to offer an obscure back door route into Euros qualification. But Vikings care not for such bureaucratic concerns. Iceland just smites.
Sheep head vs waffles
One must only look to the two country’s contributions to world cuisine to see how this will play out. Icelanders have, for countless generations, survived in deadly conditions, even disembowelling their sheep and boiling their heads as food in order to live through the horror of the sub-Arctic winter.
Belgians have, on the other hand, been prancing through the green and verdant fields for generations, singing about kittens and snacking on fancy cheese and jammy waffles while their Viking counterparts buried shark in the ashen black volcanic earth and braved to crashing Atlantic waves to catch the fish that would get them through into the spring.
It’s also noted in the annals of history that the Vikings didn’t take it easy on Belgium. In fact, the longboats twice sailed up the Scheldt and trashed Ghent, razing the city in 851, and, when it was finally rebuilt in 879, sailing up there to raze it again.
After last weekend’s defeat to the Swiss, Iceland will be in no mood for a repeat performance. Belgium manager Roberto Martinez has read the omens, and expressed fears that Iceland will catapult the bodies of their defeated foes into the Belgium box as a distraction tactic. “They are one of the best defensive teams in European football and have dangerous counterattacks,” he said, at a press conference. “They send a lot of bodies into the penalty area, use the width of the pitch well and are dangerous at set pieces. They are very dangerous. Their last result could make them like and injured animal; they will want to strike back.”
When Iceland’s war-scarred and screaming eleven take to the battlefield today—hopefully with the return of defensive midfielder Emil Hallfreðsson, in lieu of injured captain and shield-wall mainstay Aron Gunnarsson—Belgium will most definitely be feeling the Bern.
Grapevine Prediction: 851-0
Read more about Iceland’s smiting football heroes here.