Defense Key in Iceland’s Qualifying Final

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Iceland’s men’s national football team will play Ukraine tonight in the clinching qualifying match to see which team will advance to the 2024 UEFA European Football Championship in Germany this summer.

The match will take place in Wroclaw in Poland. Iceland defeated Israel 4-1 to advance to this qualifying final, while Ukraine beat Bosnia and Herzegovina 2-1. Either Iceland or Ukraine will take the final spot in Group E this summer along with Belgium, Slovakia and Romania.

Ukraine is ranked number 24 in the world by FIFA, while Iceland sits in 73d place.

Defense key

Football analyst Hörður Magnússon told RÚV that despite a decisive victory against Israel, Iceland’s play was not without flaws. “This was a game that we could have lost, but we earned the win,” he said.

Ukraine is a different opponent altogether, he added. “The Ukraine team is incredibly disciplined. They have four starting players who play in the English Premier League. It’s absolutely clear that the Icelandic team will need to defend better as a whole. They’ll be punished for the most minor mistakes,” Hörður said.

Iceland has a chance

Hörður added that despite Ukraine having a better team on paper, the match will take place at a neutral stadium in Poland. He expects Iceland supporters to attend the game in droves. “I’m not saying it’s going to be a 50/50 match, but we have a chance,” he said. “We’re looking better as a team than we did a year ago, not to mention two years ago.”

Gylfi Sigurðsson Returns to National Football Team

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Åge Hareide has announced the squad for Iceland’s upcoming UEFA Euro 2024 qualifying matches, with Gylfi Þór Sigurðsson returning after a nearly three-year absence, Vísir reports. Iceland will face Luxembourg on October 13 and Liechtenstein on October 16.

Gylfi Þór returns, Jóhann Berg absent

Åge Hareide, the head coach of the Icelandic men’s national football team, has unveiled the squad for the upcoming matches in the UEFA Euro 2024 qualifying tournament, which includes two home fixtures against Luxembourg and Liechtenstein, Vísir reports.

The former captain, Gylfi Þór Sigurðsson, now playing with Lyngby in the Danish Superliga, makes his return to the national team after a near three-year absence; Gylfi’s last appearance for Iceland was on November 15, 2020, in a match against Denmark at Parken.

In an interview with Vísir today, Hareide stated: “I have spoken with him a few times. Gylfi is one of Iceland’s best players from the beginning. He got injured recently but is already feeling much better. I want to have him around us; he is very important to us. I want to integrate him into our plans with the national team. He will have a very good and strong impact on us.”

The roster also sees the inclusion of Aron Einar Gunnarsson, despite a hiatus from football in recent months, and Andri Lucas Guðjohnsen, who earned a recall to the national team following commendable performances with Lyngby. Conversely, Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson, a player for the English Premier League club Burnley, missed out on selection, likely due to injury concerns.

Iceland is set to kick off their campaign against Luxembourg at Laugardalsvöllur on October 13, followed by a clash with Liechtenstein three days later. Iceland currently sits in fourth place in the J group with six points after six rounds have been played. Their most recent outings concluded with a 3-1 defeat to Luxembourg on foreign soil and a 1-0 triumph over Bosnia & Herzegovina at home.

Football Captain Raises Pitch Concerns with Prime Minister

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At a press conference yesterday, Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson – captain of Iceland’s men’s national football team – told reporters that he had raised concerns about Iceland’s inadequate pitch conditions during a meeting with Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir, Vísir reports. The team will face off against Luxembourg tonight in a 2024 UEFA Euro 2024 qualifier.

“We’re not asking for much”

Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson, set to captain Iceland’s men’s national football team in tonight’s UEFA Euro 2024 qualifier against Luxembourg, addressed media queries at a press conference yesterday, fielding several questions concerning Iceland’s subpar pitch conditions.

Jóhann told reporters that he had met Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir and raised an informal concern regarding the unacceptable state of Iceland’s football pitches. Katrín is currently in Luxembourg for talks with Prime Minister Xavier Bettel.

As noted by RÚV, local football club Breiðablik – having secured a spot in the Europa Conference League’s group stage – now faces the challenge of hosting home games at Laugardalsvöllur, Iceland’s sole sanctioned football pitch. The pitch lacks undersoil heating, raising concerns about the prospect of maintaining its quality until Breiðablik’s final home match in November.

The Icelandic men’s team is also likely to compete in a playoff for a berth in the UEFA Euro 2024 finals next March, intensifying the urgency to upgrade Laugardalsvöllur’s playing conditions.

Jóhann expressed envy for Luxembourg’s national stadium, the venue for tonight’s match between the two countries. “I told Katrín during breakfast this morning that Iceland needs a comparable facility. We’re not asking for much – just one quality pitch for crucial matches, especially when Laugardalsvöllur’s readiness is in doubt,” Jóhann stated.

He further noted that the issue has languished in committees for nearly a decade. “Perhaps it’s time to explore alternatives to endless committee discussions,” Jóhann suggested.

The match between Iceland and Luxembourg kicks off at 6:45 p.m. tonight.

Cristiano Ronaldo: “Iceland Have a Very Good Team”

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The men’s national football team of Portugal trained at the Laugardalsvöllur stadium last night, in preparation for tonight’s game against Iceland in the UEFA Euro 2024 qualifying tournament. Cristiano Ronaldo, who expects “a tough match,” will play his 200th international match tomorrow.

Major milestone for Cristiano Ronaldo

Following a disappointing 1-2 loss against Slovakia on Saturday, Iceland’s men’s national football team currently sits fifth in Group J of the EUFA Euro 2024 qualifying tournament. The winners and runners-up from the ten groups will qualify directly to the final tournament, which will take place in Germany next summer (the other three qualifiers will come from play-offs based on last year’s Nations League: a total of 24 teams will compete in the finals).

Tonight, Iceland will face off against group leaders Portugal, who have won all of their three matches in the qualifiers. In preparation for the game yesterday, Cristiano Ronaldo fielded questions from the media at a press conference. He told reporters that he expected a tough game. “They [Iceland] have a very good team, in my opinion. They have a strong team. And, you know, when they play at home, it’s always tough to beat teams with their support, their fans, their stadium.”

Nonetheless, the Portuguese observed that he had full faith in his team: “I believe in our team. I believe in our players. We know what we should do on the pitch to score goals, and I hope that things go the way we want. I know it’s tough, I repeat. But I think Portugal, we should show that we have a better team than them.

As noted by RÚV, Ronaldo played his first international match on August 20, 2003, in a 1-0 victory over Kazakhstan. He was 18 years old. Tomorrow, some 20 years later, Ronaldo will make his 200th international appearance – a feat that no male footballer has achieved before – when Portugal faces off against Iceland at the Laugardalsvöllur stadium.

Swapping jerseys

The Icelandic national team last competed against Portugal at the 2016 European Championship when the teams drew 1-1. The game marked Iceland’s first match at a major tournament. As noted by RÚV, Aron Einar Gunnarsson, Iceland’s captain, attempted to swap jerseys with Ronaldo after the game – but was rebuffed. At yesterday’s press conference, Aron was asked if he intended to make another go at it tonight.

“I think I’ll let it go,” Aaron said with a grin. “It’ll be his 200th international appearance so he’ll probably want to keep his jersey. So I think I’ll let it be this time.”

Hareide Makes Seven Changes to Men’s National Football Squad

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Åge Hareide, head coach of the men’s national football team, has announced his squad for the upcoming matches in the UEFA Euro 2024 qualifying tournament. Hareide has made seven changes to the previously selected squad, Mbl.is reports.

Aron Einar and Jóhann Berg to be employed as midfielders

At a press conference earlier today, Åge Hareide, newly appointed head coach of the men’s national football team, announced his squad for the upcoming matches against Slovakia and Portugal for the UEFA Euro 2024 qualifying tournament. The two matches will be played at the Laugardalsvöllur sports arena in Reykjavík on June 17 and 20.

As noted by Mbl.is, Hareide made seven changes to the squad since the team’s matches against Bosnia and Liechtenstein in March. He has also selected 25 players instead of 24 previously.

Kristian Nökkvi Hlynsson, a 19-year-old player from Ajax – who has played a major role in Iceland’s U21 and U19 national teams – enters the senior national team for the first time. Willum Þór Willumsson, from Go Ahead Eagles in the Netherlands, also joins the group, having a single senior-level national match under his belt.

Albert Guðmundsson returns to the team after a year’s absence. Birkir Bjarnason, Sverrir Ingi Ingason, goalkeeper Elías Rafn Ólafsson, and Valgeir Lunddal Friðriksson have also been selected for the squad. Hareide noted that Jóhann Berg and Aron Einar will play in the midfield.

The six players who were part of the group in March but are absent this time around are Patrik Sigurður Gunnarsson, Davíð Kristján Ólafsson, Guðmundur Þórarinsson, Aron Elís Þrándarson, Stefán Teitur Þórðarson, and Andri Lucas Guðjohnsen, Mbl.is notes.

The squad is as follows (appearances and goals noted, as well):

Goalkeepers:
Rún­ar Alex Rún­ars­son, Al­anya­spor – 22/​0
Há­kon Rafn Valdi­mars­son, Elfs­borg – 4/​0
Elías Rafn Ólafs­son, Midtjyl­l­and – 4/​0

Defenders:
Hörður Björg­vin Magnús­son, Pan­athinai­kos – 46/​2
Sverr­ir Ingi Inga­son, PAOK – 40/​3
Guðlaug­ur Victor Páls­son, DC United – 34/​1
Al­fons Samp­sted, Twente – 15/​0
Daní­el Leó Grét­ars­son, Slask Wroclaw – 13/​0
Val­geir Lund­dal Friðriks­son, Häcken – 5/​0

Midfielders:
Birk­ir Bjarna­son, Vik­ing Stavan­ger – 113/​15
Aron Ein­ar Gunn­ars­son, Al-Ar­abi – 101/​5
Jó­hann Berg Guðmunds­son, Burnley – 84/​8
Arn­ór Ingvi Trausta­son, Norr­köp­ing – 46/​5
Arn­ór Sig­urðsson, Norr­köp­ing – 27/​2
Mika­el And­er­son, AGF – 20/​2
Ísak Berg­mann Jó­hann­es­son, FC Kö­ben­havn – 18/​3
Þórir Jó­hann Helga­son, Lecce – 16/​2
Há­kon Arn­ar Har­alds­son, FC Kö­ben­havn – 9/​1
Will­um Þór Will­umsson, Go Ahead Eag­les – 1/​0
Kristian Nökkvi Hlyns­son, Ajax – 0/​0

Attackers:
Al­freð Finn­boga­son, Lyng­by – 65/​15
Al­bert Guðmunds­son, Genoa – 33/​6
Jón Dag­ur Þor­steins­son, OH Leu­ven – 26/​4
Mika­el Eg­ill Ell­erts­son, Venezia – 12/​1
Sæv­ar Atli Magnús­son, Lyng­by – 2/​0