Peep! Peep! The Vikings have secured a massive point against Lionel Messi and co. with a thrilling encounter with more than fair share of drama as well.
Currently ranked 22nd in the FIFA rankings made their World Cup debut against 2014 finalists Argentina yesterday. With their stubborn resistance they managed to take a draw and a point against Messi and marked their arrival in the biggest stage of World Cup. But the story did not start there, it started two years back when they humiliated England in the Round of 16 of Euro 2016.
After qualifying through the Group Stage which had Portugal, Hungary and Austria, they managed to survive the group stage heat without facing a defeat and qualified for the Round of 16 where they defeated England by 2-1 but went on to bow down against France in the Quarter-Final by a margin of 5-1 defeat.
Even with the exit which followed, they have managed to capture the hearts of football fans around the world with their collective effort and formidable passion for the beautiful game.
For a nation with estimated 350,000+ population, that is a remarkable achievement. And they haven’t looked back since.
Yesterday’s performance shows the Euro 2016 campaign was no fluke for them or for their country when they managed to tight rope Lionel Messi and his team to a 1-1 draw. Where Messi kept on knocking the doors and also missing a penalty which could have won them the 3 points. But got denied by a Film Director (will get back to this story later).
Argentina dominated the game with 78% possession of the ball. 27-8 shots on goal, and 4x times the amount of passes Iceland completed in the match (752-208). The numbers explain how the match played out for the football fans around the world.
The story gets deeper when you dive into the backstory of some of the players and staffs. Especially with someone like
Hannes Halldórsson, who saved Messi’s penalty with 25 minutes left in the game. He’s a professional footballer as well as a filmmaker. Yeah, you heard it right. Here’s the recent Iceland World Cup ad which he directed for Coca-Cola:
That’s a great commercial without any question. Even makes you crave for a Coke. He also directs Eurovision music videos in his free time.
Next one on the list would be, Heimir Hallgrímsson. Who is their head coach and also a dentist.
When your head coach is a Viking dentist, great things can happen. #Iceland #WorldCupRussia2018 pic.twitter.com/EqkVxgdMg0
— Billy Jensen (@Billyjensen) June 16, 2018
Hallgrímsson had to ask for time off work to go to Russia and lead his national team in the World Cup.
If you want to understand the importance of group cohesion, we will have to take a look at Iceland’s centre-backs – Kári Árnason and Ragnar Sigurðsson.
Kári Árnason is a CB who finished 11th in the Russian league with Rostov this season and Ragnar Sigurðsson is a 35 year old who just got released by Aberdeen in the Scottish League.
Apart from Gylfi Sigurðsson, who plays for Everton in the Premier League, they haven’t got a big name in the squad. But the awe of their teamwork and the movement of lines which is harmonic. We are witnessing something rare and special.
It’s hard not to love them when they defy all logical explanations and myths set by fans of the game and pundits with nothing but togetherness and hard work.
Having shocked England and the world in Euro 2016, they also had a tough route qualifying for World Cup as they brushed past the likes of Croatia, Turkey, Ukraine and now they have managed to hold back one the greatest player of all-time, they are well on course to shock and capture the love of the fans around the world once again with ball on their feet. What more to come? We shall know in the upcoming days. They are known as “Vikings” for a reason.
Now that both Iceland and Argentina have a point in the group, it still feels like a massive win for Iceland. They held on, fought hard defensively to get something out of the game.