Iceland was undoubtedly the great surprise of the Euros and so it presented itself to England, with the same victim skin as before its three previous rivals of the group stage. But when the match began with a penalty on Raheem Sterling (minute 4) that wayne Rooney later transformed, many certainly thought the Nordics’ dream had gotten there. The pross paddled in favour from the start after a gleaming exit.
Nothing further from reality. Not two minutes had elapsed when, on a corner, Arnason extended his head so that the other center, Sigurdsson, would remac with pleasure on the second stick. A new game, as if nothing had happened. But it happened, and it was that that goal did a lot of damage to England, damage whose range was yet to be seen. He both reinforced the Icelandic approach, a team that somewhat remembers Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid. Or better yet, to Leicester City by Claudio Ranieri, which has more crime because this means that after the last season in England they still seem to have not known that any team, however small it may seem, can beat you if it does things better than you.
Based on excellent defensive behavior, maintaining at all times the order and constant work of all its pieces, Iceland normally has less quality than its rivals, something that disguises by minimizing everything its mistakes can. Errors that in the first half condemned those of Roy Hodgson, who conceded a goal (Sigthorsson, min. 18), the result of several errors of his defence and goalkeeper. England would have more stars, more individual quality, but this is a team sport and the only one we saw in Nice was Iceland. This squad had the clearest ideas, they always knew what they were playing.
Attitude, physical work and winning have not been beaten yet, and today they showed that they have not come this far by chance. Opposite, an England with no criteria, no ideas, no ability to create a game, based all on a Wayne Rooney that had to be multiplied to create play, defend and generate danger with his arrivals in the area. And of course, if your opponent has the clear things and always beats you all the split balls, all the fights and even the air balls… it’s hard to hurt them.
Iceland is growing in the face of English disability
If the British did not do enough in the first half with this football lesson, they had more in the second act. The changes didn’t work for Hodgson (Vardy, Wilshere and Rashford) and not only that, but gave his selection a terrible image, because they barely disturbed Halldorsson’s goal as expected to have made a theoretically superior selection when it looks below on the scoreboard.
The second act was a succession of hanging balls, senseless deep passes, a collection of bad controls of England’s attacking men. And all before an Iceland that, as a defender of a castle that sees its enemies shrinking against its walls, grew to such an extent that Joe Hart had to prevent on a couple of occasions what would have been 1-3.
Unrecognizable England tonight to an Iceland that not only encourages us to this Eurocup but also supports the theory that football is such an unpredictable sport that little ones can take down the giants if they propose it. Now France awaits you in the quarter-finals, but that will be flour from another side.
The Man of the Party – Aron Gunnarson
If you haven’t met him these days or didn’t know him from his team, Cardiff City, they’re sure to have him identified now. It is that midfielder with a population but a well-kept beard, who makes some band kicks that look like corners, and who we see occupying every area of the field as if the survival of his country depended on it. That’s Aron Gunnarson.
The brave Icelandic Viking has been the best player of today’s match, giving a real lesson in football in solidarity, defensively and offensively speaking. Perhaps it shines brighter in destruction and when it comes to overturning the opponent’s game, because of the type of game of his national combination. But today we saw him take the ball out with great judgment and give assists to his teammates, as well as provoke very dangerous cons that he ended up saving Joe Hart. We wouldn’t be surprised to see him sign for a higher-level squad this summer because at 27 he still has a lot to say.