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Iceland - World Cup 2018

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The world may yet be shocked by Iceland at Russia 2018 as France was from the Nordic country’s surprise run in the Euro 2016.

In claiming the Euro Cup 2016 title, Iceland became the smallest nation ever to win a major tournament. But, Russia 2018 will be their first entry in the World Cup as the smallest nation to ever qualify for this competition.

Iceland’s Cold World Cup History

While the Icelandic Football League was founded in 1912, the nation of Iceland did not play their first game until 1930, a 1-0 win against the Faroe Islands.

It took another 16 years before they would play a FIFA-recognized match against Denmark, which they lost 0-3. Their first win was against Finland in 1947, where they won 2-0. Their first great upset was in 1950 when they defeated Sweden by a score of 4-3.

Iceland did not participate in World Cup qualifying until 1958 when they finished last in their group with zero wins and 26 goals against. In 1994, the team was ranked as high as 37 by FIFA.

In 2014, Iceland participated in World Cup qualifiers, barely missing out after finishing second in their group before losing a two-leg playoff against Croatia. That set up their qualification for the Euro 2016, where they made it out of the group stage and defeated England in the round of 16 before bowing out to France in the quarter-finals.

Iceland’s Road To The 2018 World Cup

Not content to bask in their success, Iceland got to work trying to qualify for Russia 2018. They dominated during qualifying, winning their group after compiling a 7-1-2 record.

Nine different players contributed to the scoring, more than any other country in their group. The team was lead in scoring by Gylfi Sigurosson, who netted 4 goals. Alfreo Finnbogason was the runner-up with 3.

Since qualifying, Iceland has played 3 friendly matches, winning 4-1 against Indonesia and losing 3-0 to Mexico and 3-1 against Peru. They are scheduled to play two more games against Norway and Ghana before their first match of the World Cup against Argentina.

How Does The Iceland World Cup 2018 Squad Stack Up?

Iceland will be taking much of the same team that was successful in the Euro 2016. Their backfield has the experience of Kari Arnason, Ragnar Sigurosson, and Birkir Mar Saeversson along with Bristol City's 25-year-old Hordur Bjorgvin Magnusson.

Up the middle, they have captain Aron Gunnarsson, Gylfi Sigurosson, and Johann Gundmunasson, who were all key factors in qualifying and the Euro 2016 run.

Iceland Odds To Win World Cup 2018

While Iceland is not a good bet to make it out of their group at 11/4 odds, their golden generation of players have been known to pull off an upset or two, notably drawing 1-1 with Portugal in the group stage of the Euro tournament before going on to beat England in the round of 16.

Don't be surprised if they pull off another upset or two at the World Cup. They are slight favorites in their game against Nigeria, 17/5 odds-against underdogs against Croatia, and 10/1 underdogs against Argentina.

Iceland World Cup 2018

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