The most part of Euro 2016 turned out to be a very Nordic story to say the very least as Iceland shocked the entire football world by reaching the quarterfinals of the illustrious European Championship.
As always, all fairytales have to come to an end, and so did Iceland’s as they succumbed to a goal blitzing 5-2 defeat at the hands of the tournament hosts France who have duly booked a place in the semi-finals against the super-efficient German national team.
Iceland’s resilience throughout their Euro 2016 campaign was quite noble and eye catching. They managed to knock out one of the favorites to win the competition, England, in the Round Of 16 when nobody gave them a chance to do so.
Their underdog status was retained, but they began to look more like a team that’s playing to win rather than a team that’s just there to make up numbers. Their qualification from the group stages was certainly no fluke as they emerged unscathed from a group in which supposedly they had no chance of securing qualification.
They may not have the most talented players within their ranks even if they can boast of the likes of Sigurdsson and the power-armed Gunnarson, but they certainly possess an abundance of team spirit, zeal, and belief which took them all the way to the Quarter-finals.
The fact that they were utterly outclassed against France seems to have ended their dream run in an abrupt manner, but they still managed to nick two consolation goals which will go a long way as far as the team’s pride is concerned.
Prior to the Quarter-final clash against Le Bleus, Iceland were one of the five teams yet to suffer defeat in Euro 2016. That feat in itself was quite astounding as Iceland went up against teams with global superstars within their ranks.
Everybody loves a good underdog
At the start of the competition, Iceland faced a Cristiano Ronaldo inspired Portugal side, but they managed to get a result from that game which left CR7 unhappy as he lashed out at them saying “Iceland didn’t try anything,”
“They were just defend, defend, defend and playing on the counterattack. It was a lucky night for them. We should have three points, but we are OK. I thought they’d won the Euros the way they celebrated at the end. It was unbelievable. When they don’t try to play and just defend, defend, defend, this, in my opinion, shows a small mentality, and they are not going to do anything in the competition.”
If anything, the small Nordic nation managed to prove Ronaldo wrong by reaching the Quarterfinals even if they crashed out of the competition in a somewhat chaotic manner.
Shades of Leicester city were seen in the performances of Iceland at Euro 2016. Iceland overachieved in a similar fashion as Leicester did in the recently concluded Premier League season, with the only distinguishing feature in their emphatic uprising being that Leicester managed to win the competition.
The performances of Gylfi Sigurdsson, Aaron Gunnarson, Johann Berg Gudmundsson and Kolbeinn Sigthorson were especially impressive for Iceland in Euro 2016. Their emphatic performances might just see them earn moves to big clubs before the transfer window closes.
Gylfi Sigurdsson is already a well-known name in the Premier League. Thus, his exquisite performances in the European Championship will undoubtedly result in an increase in his price tag.
Iceland may be out of the tournament, but they have certainly won the hearts of football fans around the globe and on that note, their Euro 2016 campaign was a successful one.