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Win-Win Situation For Iceland - Bjornsson

27 June 2016

Former Pools star Armann Bjornsson says the pressure is all on England as his native Iceland look to produce one of the shocks of Euro 2016 when the two nations meet on Monday night.

The 6ft 5ins front man spent two seasons at Victoria Park between 2009 and 2011, during which he scored three goals in 41 appearances and became the first Icelander to play for the Club.

And while he has fond memories of his time in England, Bjornsson has warned Pools and England fans that Iceland will be no push-overs in Monday evening’s last-16 clash in Nice.

With a population of just 330,000, Iceland is the smallest nation taking part in this summer’s tournament in France but a win over The Three Lions would be the biggest story so far.

“Here in Iceland we are all looking forward to the game,” said Bjornsson, now 35 and working for an engineering firm on the west coast of Iceland. 

“Everywhere you go people are talking about it because it is the most important game that the Icelandic team has ever played.

“All Icelanders are extremely proud of our national team and the country is on a high right now; around 3-4% of the population have been in France watching games and half of all Icelanders are watching on television.”
What they’ve witnessed has been their team flourishing on the global stage, remaining unbeaten in their first three games to finish an impressive second in Group F – above much-fancied Portugal.

That success means that their squad, and joint bosses Lars Lagerback and Heimur Hallgrimsson (who had to take time off from his part-time job as a dentist to lead the team), are already heroes back in their homeland.

“This is a win-win situation for the Icelandic team,” insisted Bjornsson, who won six full caps for his country.  “The players have already won in the minds of their supporters.

“Drawing against England is a dream come true for many of the Icelandic players, since the Premier League is so big in Iceland and every person here has their favourite team in English football – that fact makes tonight’s game even more special.

“We have good players in the squad who play in England, France, Germany and all over Europe – the biggest name is probably Gylfi Sugurdsson who plays for Swansea City.

“However, no player has stood out in the matches Iceland have played so far – we have had good results in those games because every player in the team has done his job well.”
Iceland have named the same starting eleven in each of their three outings in France so far and it would seem probable that they will do so again at Allianz Riviera tonight.

Bjornsson has seen England struggle to break down teams who have sat deep against them in previous games in the tournament and he feels that Iceland may adopt a similar approach.

“Iceland will go in to this game full of confidence, although they will probably play defensively and allow England to control the game,” he explained.

“They will then try to surprise on the counter-attack, with Sigurdsson as the target player.

“They will not just rely on defending though, since they have to score goals – as they have managed to do in every group game in the competition to this stage.

“They will need a superb display (and a bit of luck!) to stand a chance in this game but I have no doubt in my mind that the Icelandic players are hungry for more success at this tournament.

“Let’s not forget, Iceland have still not been defeated in any game at Euro 2016 - so I wish England the best of luck ahead of tonight’s game!”

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