Iceland World Cup squad guide: Full fixtures, group, ones to watch, odds and more

PROFILE: With the tournament only days away we take an in-depth look at all 32 teams in Russia

Liam Twomey
Monday 11 June 2018 16:05 BST
2018 Russia World Cup in numbers

The fairytale story of Euro 2016, Iceland’s presence at the World Cup this summer will come as a surprise to no one.

Heimar Hallgrimsson has prized continuity over the last two years, keeping together the same group of players that excelled with their blend of physicality and tactical organisation in France, though as a collective their approach has become a little less predictable from game to game since the departure of pragmatic co-manager Lars Lagerback.

Preparations for this tournament have been far than ideal, however. Iceland’s pool of talent is tiny and several of their key men have struggled with injuries in recent months; Kolbeinn Sigthorsson, the scourge of Joe Hart, has been ruled out entirely due to a knee injury while Gylfi Sigurdsson, Aron Gunnarsson and Alfred Finnbogason could all be less than fully fit.

A difficult group also provides an effective check on the optimism borne of two years ago, though Iceland can at least take heart from the fact they finished above Croatia in qualifying.

Who do they play?

Iceland vs Argentina – 14:00, Saturday 16 June
Iceland vs Nigeria – 16:00, Friday 22 June
Iceland vs Croatia – 19:00, Tuesday 26 June

Key players

Gylfi Sigurdsson: Everton’s club-record signing endured a difficult first season at Goodison Park, but his status as his country’s most important player remains undisputed. Sigurdsson’s creativity from open play and threat from set pieces, whether he is delivering the ball into an opponent’s penalty area or going for goal himself, form the vast majority of Iceland’s attack.

Gylfi Sigurdsson is key to Iceland's hopes (AFP)

Johann Berg Gudmundsson: Anyone who watched Burnley this season will be familiar with Gudmundsson, who has established himself as a regular presence on the right flank of Sean Dyche’s midfield with his energy, speed and dangerous crossing. Eight assists in the Premier League underline his threat from wide areas, and his qualities will be even more important to Hallgrimsson if Sigurdsson is in less than peak shape.

Ragnar Sigurdsson: Best remembered for his goal and heroic defending against England at Euro 2016, Sigurdsson could not make a success of the transfer to Fulham he earned with his performances at the tournament. A move to FC Rostov in January appears to have rejuvenated him, however, and his understanding with Aberdeen veteran Kari Arnason is the heart of Iceland’s formidable defence.

One to watch

Alfred Finnbogason: In the absence of Sigthorsson, the scoring burden in Russia will fall more squarely on the shoulders of Finnbogason. Fortunately for Iceland, his record suggests he is ready for the challenge; this season he netted 12 times in 22 Bundesliga appearances for Augsburg, his best tally since topping the Eredivisie scoring charts with 29 goals for Heerenveen in 2013/14.

How did they get here?

Iceland qualified for the World Cup automatically after stunningly finishing top of a group that featured Croatia, Ukraine and Turkey, winning seven of their 10 matches.

A remarkable 3-0 away victory against Turkey on the penultimate match day, coupled with second-placed Croatia’s costly home draw with Finland, created an opportunity for Hallgrimsson’s men to secure top spot at home to minnows Kosovo. They took it, comfortably winning 2-0.

Defensive solidity provided the foundation for Iceland’s success; they conceded just seven goals across their 10 qualifying games, keeping five clean sheets.

How will they do?

Much depends on how Iceland fare in their opening group match against Argentina. A positive result against Lionel Messi and company could provide the springboard to qualification for the knockout stage, but a defeat would force an offensively limited team to chase results against Nigeria and Croatia, leaving them more vulnerable to be picked off.

Realistically, anything other than a group stage exit should be regarded as a resounding success.

Odds of winning the tournament: 200/1

Full squad

Goalkeepers: Hannes Thor Halldorsson, Runar Alex Runarsson, Frederik Schram.

Defenders: Kari Arnason, Ari Freyr Skulason, Birkir Mar Saevarsson, Sverrir Ingi Ingason, Hordur Magnusson, Holmar Orn Eyjolfsson, Ragnar Sigurdsson.

Midfielders: Johann Berg Gudmundsson, Birkir Bjarnason, Arnor Ingvi Traustason, Emil Hallfredsson, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Olafur Ingi Skulason, Rurik Gislason, Samuel Fridjonsson, Aron Gunnarsson.

Forwards: Alfred Finnbogason, Bjorn Bergmann Sigurdarson, Jon Dadi Bodvarsson, Albert Gudmundsson.

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