Excitement is in the air. Can you feel it? The 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia is right around the corner. Will you be supporting Germany, who won the Cup in 2014? Or perhaps other World Cup favorites such as Spain, France, Brazil, or Argentina? While we know it’s a long shot, our hearts are set on the Icelandic National Football Team taking home the trophy from Luzhniki Stadium on July 15th. Let’s learn a little bit about the team as well as some key matches in Iceland’s 2018 FIFA World Cup bid. Kickoff for the international football tournament is on June 14th, which will be here in the blink of an eye.
Iceland’s 2018 FIFA World Cup Bid – Basic Info
For the uninitiated, let’s first talk about the World Cup. Much like the Olympics, the World Cup takes place every four years. The top 32 football teams in the world come together to compete for the ultimate prize. The teams first compete in groups and then advance through the brackets until reaching the final game. Iceland is a part of Group D, along with Croatia and World Cup heavyweights Nigeria and Argentina.
Iceland’s 2018 FIFA World Cup Bid – Group Stage Matches
Iceland’s matches in the group stage are on June 16th in Moscow’s Otkritie Arena (Argentina match), June 22nd at Volgograd Arena (Nigeria Match) and June 26th at Rostov Arena (Croatia match). Rostov Arena is home to Russian Premier League team FC Rostov. This will be Iceland’s first appearance at a FIFA World Cup, and we are so excited and proud of our team. No matter what happens in Group D or during the rest of the tournament, we are thrilled to have the players representing Iceland on the world stage.
Iceland’s 2018 FIFA World Cup Bid – The Team
So who are the players on Iceland’s World Cup team? Known as “Our Boys” (Strákarnir okkar in Icelandic), the squad is comprised of 23 members. Most of them spend the year playing for European clubs outside of Iceland but come together as part of the Iceland National Football Team for qualifiying matches and for the UEFA European Championships. Coach Heimir Hallgrimsson and captain Aron Einar Gunnarsson lead star players such as midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson and center-backs Ragnar Sigurdsson and Kari Arnason. Sigurdsson was responsible for most of the goals leading up to this World Cup appearance. Lastly, we can’t forget goalie Hannes Halldorsson. His responsibility is enormous, as it falls on his head to stop the final advances of the oncoming team’s offense.
Iceland’s 2018 FIFA World Cup Bid – What to Expect During the Matches
Group D is a really tough group to be in. Nigeria has a powerful squad with an even stronger following, as does Argentina. Let’s not forget, five-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi may play for FC Barcelona, but he is Argentinian and plays for their national team. The easiest match in this group will likely be against Croatia, whom Iceland beat in a 2017 World Cup qualifying match. Additionally, after reaching the playoffs in their 2014 World Cup bid, they lost to Croatia, so perhaps this will fire up their motivation against this particular team. It will be difficult, however, because Croatia also has an outstanding player from FC Barcelona: midfielder Ivan Rakitic.
Iceland’s 2018 FIFA World Cup Bid
Whichever team you’re rooting for, I hope you enjoy the competition and coming together of nations. And while you’re watching, why not wave an Icelandic flag to support Icelandic sports?