Icelanders Disappoint the Danes at 2020 Euro

Danes Exit Euro 2020

The Hungarian national handball team defeated Iceland in the teams’ final game of the 2020 Euro group stages. As a result of the Icelanders’ loss, the Danish national team was eliminated from the competition. The Danish press expressed its disappointment following the Danish exit, Vísir reports.

Following a six-goal loss against Hungary yesterday, the Icelandic national handball team advances to the main round of the 2020 Euro (with zero points). As noted by the Danish Jyllands-Posten, “what Hungary and Iceland have in common is that they will play their first game of the main rounds on Friday. Denmark will not.”

The Danish press has criticised the performance of the Danish national team ever since its loss against Iceland last Saturday. The criticism continued yesterday. The Danes did, however, secure a consolation victory against Russia yesterday – in a game that, as far as the competition went, meant nothing.

“No help: Danes exit the Euro,” a headline from Ekstra Bladet reads. Other observations include, “Iceland couldn’t help the Danes” and “the Danes needed the Icelanders’ help to advance to the main round, but no such thing happened.”

Claus Møller Jakobsen, a commentator with TV 2 Sport, agrees that there is no other word for the Danes’ performance than “fiasco.”

“There’s no doubt that this is a fiasco. Denmark has, in two games, not displayed the quality the team possesses.”

Iceland will face off against Slovenia tomorrow at 3 pm in the team’s first match in the main rounds.

National Handball Team Advances to Euro Main Round

Iceland Advances to Main Group

The Icelandic National Handball Team advanced to the main round of the 2020 EHF European Men’s Handball Championship yesterday. Iceland beat Russia 34:23 and sits atop Group E with four points.

The Icelandic National Handball Team played its second match of the EHF European Men’s Handball Championship against Russia yesterday. Iceland had the upper hand for the entire game, enjoying a seven-goal lead during half time. The team played well during the second half, beating the Russians by 11 goals. The final score was 34:23. As Iceland won its opening match against Denmark on Saturday, the team has secured four points after two rounds.

Shortly after Iceland’s match against Russia, Olympic Champions Denmark faced off against Hungary – desperately needing a win; Denmark had zero points after a first-round loss against Iceland. Hungary, on the other hand, had secured two points following a narrow win against Russia. Securing an early advantage, Hungary maintained their lead for almost the entire match. With only a few minutes remaining of the game, the Hungarians were leading by two goals (23:21). The Danes mustered a comeback, scoring three goals in quick succession (23:24). In the final moments of the game, Hungarian Zoltan Szita equalised. Danish captain Mikkel Hansen had the opportunity of securing a Danish win, but goalkeeper Roland Mikler rebuffed his attempt. Final score 24:24.

Denmark’s loss means that Iceland sits atop Group E with four points, Hungary has three points, Denmark has one point and Russia zero points. Iceland is, therefore, the only team in Group E that has advanced to the main round.

The final round of the group stages will take place next Wednesday, January 15.

Men’s National Handball Team Prepares for Euro 2020

Captain of the National Handball Team Guðjón Valur Sigurðsson

The Men’s National Handball team will play its opening match at the 2020 EHF European Men’s Handball Championship against Denmark next Saturday, January 11. Team captain Guðjón Valur Sigurðsson, who turned 40 last summer, will be competing at the EURO for the eleventh time. In an interview yesterday, Guðjón Valur expressed his gratitude for still being able to compete at the highest level.

The 2020 EHF European Men’s Handball Championship will take place between January 9 to January 26. It will be the first time that competition is co-hosted in three countries, Austria, Norway and Sweden. Iceland was drawn into Group E alongside Denmark, Hungary, and Russia.

At a press conference held at Alvogen headquarters in Reykjavík yesterday afternoon, Iceland Review spoke to captain Guðjón Valur Sigurðsson. He will be competing at the EURO for the eleventh time. No other Icelandic handball player has participated in the competition as often. Guðjón Valur admitted that a lot had changed in his roughly twenty-year career with the national team.

“You learn from the mistakes you’ve made; from the coaches and the teams you’ve played with; from the poor performances; from that meal you ate too close to game time. As you grow older, you begin focusing more on sleep, diet, mental health. Everything. Whether that’s experience speaking or just me getting older and more emotional – I can’t say. Hopefully, you grow wiser, smarter, and more crafty as you grow older. It would be a shame if I were making the same mistakes today as when I was twenty.”

Guðjón Valur played his first match with the national team in December 1999. No other outfield player has played as many matches for the national team. Guðjón Valur is also the highest-scoring handball player in the history of the national team.

“I have learned a lot from having spent my entire life as a handball player.”

When asked about the biggest change, in terms of stepping onto the court today as compared to 20 years ago, Guðjón Valur spoke of gratitude.

“Today, I’m just grateful for being able to do this. I don’t take it for granted anymore. When one is 20, 25 years old, everything is a piece of cake. One stays up later, sleeps less, and can eat hamburgers and hot-dogs every meal. When one reaches one’s forties, however, sleep becomes more important. So does spending time with family.”

Moldovan Choir Steals Show at Men’s Football Game

The Icelandic men’s football team played their final match at the UEFA Euro 2020 qualifiers yesterday evening. Among the evening’s highlights was the performance of Iceland’s national anthem, Löfsöngur, by a Moldovan choir.

The Icelandic men’s football team competed against Moldova at the Zimbru Stadium in Chișinău, Moldova, yesterday. Iceland beat Moldova 2-1 with goals from captain Gylfi Sigurðsson and Birkir Bjarnason (Nicolae Milinceanu scored Moldova’s only goal). Despite winning the match, Iceland failed to directly qualify for the Euro 2020 Championship. Iceland placed third in Group H with 19 points (Iceland can still qualify through play-offs in March).

Prior to the match, a choir comprised of approximately 30 women, dressed in white robes, sang the Icelandic national anthem, Löfsöngur (see below). As a journalist for Vísir insinuated, the performance was a pleasant contrast to the boos of Turkish supporters during Iceland’s penultimate match in Turkey last Thursday.

Men’s Football Team Takes on France in Crucial Match

Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson

The Men’s National Football Team will compete against France tonight in a crucial match for the UEFA Euro 2020 qualifiers. France will be hoping to overtake group-leader Turkey (the two teams are level on points although Turkey has conceded fewer goals). Meanwhile, Iceland is also challenging for the top two places (Iceland is three points behind Turkey and France). The top two teams in each group qualify.

Iceland and France have gone head-to-head a total of 14 times. Les Bleus have been victorious ten times, with four matches resulting in a draw (France leads 41-12 on aggregate). During the two teams’ first match in 1957, during the World Cup qualifiers, France embarrassed Iceland with an 8-0 rout.

In March, the two teams faced off in Paris for their first match in the qualifiers. France beat Iceland 4-0.

Both teams will play without their team captains: Icelandic midfielder Aron Gunnarsson (Al-Arabi) and French goalkeeper Hugo Lloris (Tottenham) have both been ruled out with injuries. Iceland will also have to do without Hörður Björgvin Magnússon (CSKA Moscow), while Les Bleus will be without Paul Pogba (Manchester United) and Kylian Mbappé (PSG).

As RÚV reports, however, France will field a strong team. Antoine Grizemann (Barcelona); Raphael Varane (Real Madrid); N’Golo Kanté and Olivier Giroud (Chelsea); Kingsley Coman, Lucas Hernández, Benjamin Pavard and Corentin Tolisso (Bayern Munich) are all expected to play.

Italian Gianluca Rocchi will officiate.

The match – which is long since sold out – will begin at 18:45 at Laugardalsvöllur stadium in Reykjavík tonight.

Iceland qualified for the UEFA European Championship for the first time in 2016. The team advanced through the group stages and secured a 2-1 victory against England in the round of 16. The lost 2-5 against France in the quarter-finals.