While Aron was banging the drum outside Croatia’s team hotel so they couldn’t nod off last night, the whole Icelandic nation was struggling to sleep for other reasons. Today is D-Dayfor Iceland’s World Cup campaign, and as tough as our boys’ path to the Round of 16 is, people are daring to dream. Even the nuns. Here’s what’s been happening in Camp Smite in the run up to the historic battle with Modrić and co.
Round of 16 would be Iceland’s biggest achievement
Coach Heimir stated that advancing to the knockout stages of the World Cup would be a new height for Iceland in yesterday’s press conference with Aron Gunnarsson, fótbolti.net reports. “If we move on to the Round of 16 it would probably be the biggest achievement in the history of the Icelandic national team,” said Heimir, with his side’s fate hanging in the balance before the crunch match with Croatia. Although they must rely on other results going their way, Aron Einar’s Barmy Army will be firmly focused on keeping their part of the bargain, and could be helped by Croatia coach Zlatko Dalić’s decision to rotate his squad.
“The Berginator” in cryptic Instagram post
Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson has posted a picture of himself doing head-ups in training on his personal Instagram page, raising Icelanders’ hopes of his participation. In the image, Jói’s injured calf is bandaged, but supporters will be encouraged by the fact that he is in his full kit and wearing boots. The Burnley man finds himself in a similar situation to captain Aron at the beginning of the tournament, in the sense that this kind of injury would only be risked in special circumstances. The presence of the winger–whose international importance has grown hugely in recent years–was sorely missed against Nigeria, so we say pump the boy full of mead and get him onto the battlefield.
“The Annihilator” wants to feel Mother Russia’s backing
Aron Gunnarsson will be hoping that ordinary Russians are unaware of the Icelandic establishment’s decision to boycott their country over the Sergei Skripal poisoning during today’s game. He wants to feel the full force of the host country behind our boys against Croatia according to fótbolti.net, saying in yesterday’s press conference that crowd support “gives us the difference.” Four members of Iceland’s World Cup squad play their club football in Russia; Björn Bergmann Sigurðarson, Sverrir Ingi Ingason and Ragnar Sigurðsson all turn out for FC Rostov, while Hörður Björgvin Magnússon recently signed for CSKA Moscow.
“The Darth Dentist” to decide on future after World Cup
Our boys’ commander-in-chief Heimir Hallgrímsson is yet to commit his future to the role and today’s game could be the last time he takes charge of the side. The former assistant and co-manager’s deal only reaches the end of the World Cup, Visír reports, and any move away would mark the end of seven years in the national set-up. Heimir–who was reportedly lined up for the Scotland managerial vacancy in January–has overseen the nation’s most successful period in history by some distance, firstly alongside Lars Lagerbäck in the Euros and then on his own since 2016. His stock has risen considerably since then, and KSÍ will surely be desperate to retain his services.
Argentine : 44%
Nigeria : 43%
Islande : 13%
Voici les probabilités de qualification pour les 8e de finale dans le Groupe D, selon le World Cup Predictor élaboré par @OptaJean #CM2018 https://t.co/1LVmou64ai
— Goal France (@GoalFrance) June 25, 2018
Opta slams Iceland chances
According to Opta’s infamously unreliable World Cup Predictor, our boys have been given a 13% chance of advancing to the Round of 16 tomorrow. Group rivals Argentina were given a 44% chance of making the knockouts and Nigeria a 43% chance. As every fan of Iceland knows, statistics concocted by boffins in laboratories are not to be taken seriously. After all, if they were religiously adhered to, Iceland would be nowhere near the tournament in Russia. Before proceedings kicked off, Opta gave Iceland a 1.3% chance of lifting the trophy, fuelling our feud with the stat nerd outlet.
Our boys ready to emulate Slovakia
The Icelandic horde are hoping to become the first debutantes to make the knockout stages of the World Cup since Slovakia in 2010, according to the BBC. Should they manage this feat, they will undoubtedly go on to surpass the achievements of The Falcons, who fell at the first hurdle in South Africa, losing 2-1 to minnows Holland. The game against Nigeria also represented the first tournament match in which Iceland have failed to score, and their first group stage defeat in a major tournament. Get ready for more firsts today, when the Rostov boys become pioneers of the in-game usage of spears and battle-axes.
Nuns and God get behind our boys
Icelandic nuns have thrown support behind the team as World Cup fever grips the religious community. The Carmel Sisters of Hafnarfjörður spoke on behalf of the Big Kahuna himself by posting a video on Facebook of their 12-woman squad performing a perfectly timed Viking Clap. Our boys could certainly do with some divine intervention tomorrow and rumour has it Our Father who art in heaven didn’t take too kindly to Maradona appropriating his image during *that* devilish act at Mexico ‘86. He’s set to smite La Albiceleste in the most brutal of fashions as a result tomorrow.