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FIFA World Cup 2018: Gylfi Sigurdsson key for Iceland

A relatively inexperienced Iceland team will rely heavily on star Gylfi Sigurdsson to make an impression at 2018 FIFA World Cup.

football Updated: Jun 10, 2018 22:47 IST
Sayan Ghosh
Sayan Ghosh
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Iceland's midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson (L) and Ghana's Nana Ampomah vie for the ball during the international friendly football match Iceland vs Ghana in Reykjavik.
Iceland's midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson (L) and Ghana's Nana Ampomah vie for the ball during the international friendly football match Iceland vs Ghana in Reykjavik.(AFP)

Country: Iceland

Position: Midfielder

World Cup Appearances: Debut

Two years ago, Iceland had hardly any presence on the global football scene and many saw their Euro 2016 qualification as a lucky break for the small European nation. However, they proved everyone wrong by reaching the Round of 16 with a draw against eventual champions Portugal and a hard-fought win over heavyweights England. Gylfi Sigurdsson was one of the more well-known members of that squad and the midfielder will once again be vital to his team’s fortunes in Russia.

The 28-year old is a familiar face in England thanks to his stints with Premier League clubs Reading and Swansea City before he joined Everton at the start of the 2017-18 season. Although his season was cut short by injuries, he was an integral part of his team’s attacking play and the Iceland international ended the season with 4 goals and 3 assists to his name. On the international front, he has scored 19 times in 56 matches with one of the goals coming in the 2016 European Championships. During the FIFA World Cup 2018 qualifying process, he scored four times for his national side as they leapfrogged teams like Croatia, Ukraine and Turkey to top the group in order to secure their berth.

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Head coach Heimir Hallgrímsson likes to play with a 4-5-1 formation against stronger nations and that will allow Gylfi Sigurdsson in assuming a free role in front of defensive midfielders. Skipper Aron Gunnarsson and Sigurdsson, arguably the team’s most important players, have made the perfect midfield pair for years and they will be responsible for opening up the gaps for the team’s strikers.

Most experts are expecting Gylfi Sigurdsson to lead Iceland’s attacking game, but the midfielder can also play the striker’s role if needed. Jon Dadi Bodvarsson is the main striker for Iceland football team right now and he will certainly benefit from having an experienced partner like Sigurdsson by his side.