World Cup team preview: Iceland

Having caused a stir with a shock run to the Euro 2016 quarterfinals, Iceland will be looking to turn heads again in their debut FIFA World Cup appearance.

Part-time dentist Heimir Hallgrimsson’s side topped a qualifying group which featured Turkey, Ukraine, and Croatia, who they will face again in the group stage.

Before their potentially decisive clash with Croatia on 26 June, the debutants will open their campaign against Argentina on 16 June and then face Nigeria six days later.

Gylfi Sigurdsson is the key man for Iceland, but he endured a difficult first season at Everton, scoring four goals and bagging three assists in 27 Premier League games. In 2016/17, by contrast, he notched nine goals and 13 assists for Swansea.

However, write off the talent of Johann Berg Gudmundsson at your peril. In 35 league games for Burnley, he made eight assists, playing a crucial role in their qualification for the Europa League.

Samuel Fridjonsson is also one to watch. The versatile midfielder has impressed for Norwegian club Valrenga, and at just 22 years of age, has the world at his feet.

The smallest country in the World Cup faces a struggle to escape from a competitive group. However, having knocked England out of the European championship a mere two years ago, they will fancy their chances against Croatia and Nigeria.

The current generation of Icelandic footballers may not boast a star of quite the same profile as Eidur Gudjohnsen, the former Chelsea and Barcelona forward.

However, as a unit with their backs against the wall and the odds piled against them, they have proven their ability to punch well above their weight.

Iceland squad
Goalkeepers: Hannes Thor Halldorsson (Randers FC), Runar Alex Runarsson (FC Nordsjælland), Frederik Schram (FC Roskilde).

Defenders: Kari Arnason (Aberdeen), Ari Freyr Skulason (K.S.C. Lokeren Oost-Vlaanderen), Birkir Mar Saevarsson (Hammarby), Sverrir Ingi Ingason (FC Rostov), Hordur Magnusson (Bristol City), Holmar Orn Eyjolfsson (Maccabi Haifa), Ragnar Sigurdsson (FC Rostov).

Midfielders: Johann Berg Gudmundsson (Burnley), Birkir Bjarnason (Aston Villa), Arnor Ingvi Traustason (Malmo FF), Emil Hallfredsson (Udinese), Gylfi Sigurdsson (Everton), Olafur Ingi Skulason (Kardemir Karabukspor), Rurik Gislason (FC Nurnberg), Samuel Fridjonsson (Valerenga), Aron Gunnarsson (Cardiff City).

Forwards: Alfred Finnbogason (FC Augsburg), Bjorn Bergmann Sigurdarson (FC Rostov), Jon Dadi Bodvarsson (Reading), Albert Gudmundsson (PSV Eindhoven).

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