As the Icelandic Football Association continued picking out altars on which to store the Euro 2020 trophy in the great hall, the team got to work on smiting their way into the finals of the tournament for the second time running. Here’s what went down. Smite.
The ashing of Andorra
The first step for Euro 2020 qualification was a battle that has quickly become known as “The Ashing of Andorra.” The horde travelled to the tiny, half-full Estadi Nacional—a 3,000 seater astroturf ground—to administer a forceful 2-0 thrashing. First, Birkir Bjarnason bollocked a rebound into the net with his demonic forehead; then, after misfiring Alfreð Finnbogason blazed over, his replacement—Viðar Örn Kjartansson—sealed the deal with a right-footed second. As a rain of grey ash floated down onto the battle-pocked pitch, the victorious horde waded back to the longship through the awful marais, sailing towards Paris with revenge on their minds.
French fiends sink longship
The next game, however, proved to be a different proposition. In front of a 64,500-strong audience at the Stade de France, Iceland turned in a robust first-half defensive display, doggedly keeping the world champs at bay. Olivier Giroud, Anton Greizmann and Kylian Mbappe threw everything but the kitchen sink at the shield wall, limping in at half time with a paltry single goal to show for their efforts. After the break, the horde pressed forward, fiery hearts set on pulling the match back from the brink. As they mounted wave after wave of terrifying charges, few were left behind to defend; France capitalised on this fearless bravery and dinked in a couple more. The battle ended 4-0.
No pardon for Turkey
This leaves the Icelandic longship listing and rolling at fourth in a tumultuous qualifying group, drawn on points with Albania, who lead on goal difference. The next two matches—both to be played on the mossy turf of Laugardalsvöllur—will prove decisive. Only the top two in each group qualify for the finals, so Iceland need to profit from the home advantage and get some points in the pillaging sack. The plan? Our sources indicate that Albania will be torn to shreds by a pack of starving Arctic foxes on the 6th June; then, the entire Moldova team will be swallowed into the belly of a volcano on July 9th. Between these two: an epic crunch game against Turkey on June 11th. A note: Iceland have roasted Turkey on three of their last four meetings. Yes. We. Can.
Warnock’s war of words
Granite-faced war horse Neil Warnock—manager of Cardiff City—had some choice words for the Icelandic Football Association after these mighty clashes. His team are torrid Premier League stragglers, in grave danger of relegation to the Football League this season. Talismanic midfield general Aron Gunnarsson is off to seek gold and glory at Qatari side Al-Arabi at the end of the season, but Warnock flew into a rage about him playing for Iceland whilst carrying a slight injury niggle. “I just thought it was pure selfishness,” he ranted, “and I’m so disappointed in Iceland for doing that.” He should probably know by now that Aron “The Annihilator” would play for Iceland in a wheelchair if he was allowed to.
Vikings run wild
In other parts of Europe, the horde have been running wild and changing games. “Golden boots” Gylfi scored to sink Sarri’s sorry Chelsea; Jóhann Berg scored against insurgent title contenders Liverpool in March, and got Leicester’s Harry Maguire sent off in the fourth minute for a desperate, lunging tackle. Alfreð Finnbogason’s mighty injury time strike may have been enough to keep Augsburg in the German Cup were it not for a ham-fisted handball—resulting in a campaign-ending penalty—from their shaky backline. All in all? Icelanders are proving to be the big-game players every team needs. But we knew that, didn’t we?
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