By now you’ll be aware of Iceland’s fairytale last-kick winner over Austria. It was goal that sealed their spot in the next round of Euro 2016.
The video of the squealing Icelandic commentator for that goal has likely crossed your path too, as has the news that Lars Lagerback’s side will be England’s round-of-16 opponents in Nice on Monday night.
What you may not know, however, is anything meaningful about the Euro 2016 outsiders’ style of play. Well, allow Ladbrokes News to correct that with these four nuggets:
They won’t want the ball
Given the size of their country and non-existent pedigree at major tournaments, reaching the Euro 2016 knockouts was an almost unthinkable achievement for Iceland.
That they did so by barely touching the ball during the group phase is even more phenomenal.
Iceland had a 28.3 per cent overall share of the ball against Portugal, Hungary and Austria. That is the second-lowest mark of the tournament and only marginally better than Northern Ireland’s 27.4 per cent.
It doesn’t take Pep Guardiola to work out that if Iceland spend a long time without the ball, they have to do a lot of defending. But that’s just how Lagerback and his squad like it.
A well-organised, deep-lying and compact bunch, Iceland have largely restricted their opponents to long-range efforts through the first three games.
In fact, no side conceded more attempts from outside the box in the group phase than Iceland’s 36.
The team in second? Slovakia, who frustrated England for 90 minutes in a goalless Group B draw just days ago.
On the rare occasions that Iceland do get the ball, they have been one of the tournament’s best sides for creating good chances.
82 per cent of their 23 shots on goal during the group stage came from inside the box and, according to Opta’s data, five of those were “big chances”. Only five teams created more than that from their first three games.
Further illustrations of Iceland’s preference for shot quality over quantity can be found on Twitter;
— Paul Riley (@footballfactman) June 22, 2016
— 11tegen11 (@11tegen11) June 22, 2016
Population wise, Iceland are the smallest nation at these Euros by some distance. You’d never have thought it though.
No team has a higher proportion of their people in France cheering them on:
— sportingintelligence (@sportingintel) June 22, 2016
That support has been noticeable throughout Iceland’s matches. There have been endless war cries and songs from the stands, providing an atmosphere to rival the home support France are receiving.
As a thank you, the players joined in with this fantastic celebration after the Austria win:
If England’s first-three games were like training matches, this Iceland encounter will be anything but.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.