We’re well into the Euro 2016 tournament now, with four days having already gone by and providing plenty of talking points on and off the pitch. However, we are now moving onto day five on Tuesday, where Portugal shall play the smallest nation in the competition, Iceland.
The game will be played in the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard in Saint-Étienne, a ground which can hold up to 35,000 supporters. The stadium does have international experience as well, hosting two games at Euro ’84 and six matches at the 1998 World Cup.
It’s relatively well-known who Portugal’s star player is, Cristiano Ronaldo. The Icelanders are going to have some job on their hands if they are to stop the Madeira-born playmaker. Meanwhile, on the other side, the main threat is going to be midfielder Gylfi Sigurðsson of Premier League side Swansea City – who is currently in contract talks with the Welsh club.
Form before tournament
Strákarnir okkar (Our boys) only had two warm-up friendlies prior to Euro 2016; Liechtenstein and Norway, neither of whom are competing at the tournament this summer. Iceland suffered a 3-2 defeat in Oslo against Norway with Sverrir Ingi Ingason and Gylfi Sigurðsson getting the goals for the smallest Euro 2016 nation. Five days later they enjoyed a 4-0 victory against Liechtenstein in Iceland’s capital city Reykjavík, the goalscorers included 37-year-old forward Eiður Guðjohnsen, who of course use to play for Chelsea and Barcelona but now plies his trade for Molde in Norway.
Portugal had three warm-up internationals leading into the European Championships; Norway, England and Estonia. In the game against the Norwegians, played in Porto, Ricardo Quaresma, Éder and Raphaël Guerreiro grabbed the goals to earn a 3-0 win for the Portuguese. Four days later Portugal had to travel to London for the game against England and thanks to a Chris Smalling header in the second-half they were defeated 1-0. Their last friendly against Estonia was a thriller, with Cristiano Ronaldo scoring twice in a 7-0 against Estonia.
Portugal and Iceland last met five years in a Euro 2012 qualifier, played in Porto’s Estadio do Dragao. At half-time, the home side were 3-0 up with a double from then-Manchester United star Nani and Zaragoza’s Hélder Postiga. Iceland pulled two goals back in the second-half, both from Hallgrímur Jónasson, a centre-back currently at Danish club Odense Boldklub. However, late goals from João Moutinho and Eliseu put Portugal 5-2 ahead, the scoring was completed by a late consolation penalty for a young Gylfi Sigurðsson, making the final score 5-3 to Paulo Bento’s side.
Portugal: Rui Patrício; Cédric, Pepe, Bruno Alves, Raphäel Guerreiro; Danilo, João Mário, João Moutinho, Adrien Silva; Nani, Cristiano Ronaldo.
Iceland: Kristinsson; Skúlason, R Sigurdsson, Árnason, Sævarsson; Gudmundsson, G Sigurdsson, Gunnarsson, Bjarnason; Sigthórsson, Finnbogason.
Going by the tournament so far this summer, this fixture is going to be a tight one and I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if Iceland nicked a win against the Portuguese. However, it is not an unknown fact that Portugal have a very strong side – when compared to the Icelandics. In my opinion, this is obviously going to be a tight affair but I think Ronaldo and his team will win 1-0. Star players have struggled in Euro 2016 and Ronaldo will suffer a similar fate in this game.
- In the previous two meetings between these nations, the aggregate score was 8-4. Both of these were Euro 2012 qualifiers.
- Euro 2016 is Portugal’s seventh appearance at the European Championships.
- Portugal hold the record for the number of times they have reached the semi-finals (4), without ever winning the tournament.
- The last time the Euros were held in France, 1984, Portugal made it to the semi-finals – only to be knocked out by the hosts 3-2 after extra-time.
- Euro 2016 is Iceland’s first-ever major tournament.
- Iceland used only 20 players during their qualifying campaign, the lowest tally alongside Austria. Iceland only used 20 players in their qualifiers, the lowest tally alongside Austria.
- Iceland had the second oldest team in qualifying for Euro 2016 with an average age of just under 29 years, only the Republic of Ireland had a more ageing side.
- If Cristiano Ronaldo scores in this tournament, he’ll become level with Zlatan Ibrahimović for scoring in four European Championships. 2004 (2), 2008 (1) and 2012 (3).