September 20, 2015

Iceland national team – starting line-up (Best XI) from match which clinched their qualification for the 2016 Euros in France. (Iceland starting squad from 6 September 2015, Iceland 0-0 Kazakhstan. Laugardalsvöllur, Reykjavik, Iceland, att: 9,767.)

Filed under: Iceland — admin @ 10:01 am

By Bill Turianski on 20 September 2015;

    Iceland – the smallest-ever nation to qualify for The Euros (15 Euros tournaments/66 years/since 1960)

-Squad chart…
-Team…Iceland national team.
-Country…Iceland (
-The UEFA Euros tournament in France in June 2016… UEFA Euro 2016 (
-Article from Jan.2016…Iceland fans flood to apply for EURO tickets (

    Semi-pro 1st division football in Iceland…

Below, a roof-top view of central Reykjavic, plus photos of the grounds of the 2 highest-drawing Icelandic clubs KR and FH
Photo credits above –
Rooftop-view of central Reykjavic at twilight in the summer, photo by Roman Gerasymenko at KR-vollur (KR-stadium), aerial photo of main-stadium part of KV-vollur sports complex, photo unattributed at Shot of main stand, photo by unnamed photographer at FH’s stadium, exterior and interior photos by, at

In Iceland, the seasons of the first division are played from May to October…
Owing to the harsh winters in Iceland, the seasons of the first division are played from May to early October. The 1st division in Iceland is called the Úrvalsdeild {2015 Úrvalsdeild}. It has existed since 1912, and it is a 12-team semi-pro league. (Up to 2014, the league was 10 teams, with the 2-team league-expansion occurring in the 2015 season). Usually about 70%-or-more of the Úrvalsdeild is comprised of Greater Reykjavik-based clubs (9 of 12 teams in 2015 come from the Capital District). League average attendance is usually in the .9-K-to-1.3-K-per-game range, with a few clubs each year (~3 to 6 clubs) able to crack the one-thousand-per-game range. The two biggest Icelandic clubs can draw above two-thousand-per-game in good seasons (like a couple times a decade). Those 2 clubs are: the most-titled-club, with 26 Icelandic titles, KR Reykjavik; and the 6-time-title-winners, HF (or Hafnarfjörður). But 2.1 K per game in a good year is about as big as football clubs in Iceland get. Current [2014] champions are Sjarnan, who also are located in Greater Reykjavic/Capital District. Sjarnan won their first title last season, this on the heels of the squad’s recent viral Internet fame – crazy choreographed goal celebrations, such as these wacky hijinks, Stjarnan Iceland: All funny celebrations so far ( video uploaded by hellyooh/ with 2.2 million views and counting). By the way, Sjarnan drew 979 per game last season…in a 1,000-capacity stadium. Which means they played to virtual-sellout-crowds at 97.9 percent-capacity.

At the fantastic blog called [Sweden], there are several posts and tons of photos of Iceland 1st division matches/clubs/stadiums, here…

The best Icelanders play abroad…
All, or virtually all, of the best Icelandic footballers play abroad, of course. And most seem very partial to the colder-weather leagues. The lions’ share of the current Iceland starting squad play pro football in prominent or even elite Northern European pro leagues. They play pro football in either the Scandinavian countries (in Sweden [2 starters], in Denmark [1 starter], and in Norway [1 starter]). Or in England [3 starters/2 of which play on Welsh sides]. Or in the Netherlands [1 starter]. Or in Switzerland [1 starter]. Or in southern Russia [1 starter].

One starter is playing in Brittany, and that is Iceland’s most prolific current scoring-threat, Kolbeinn Sigþórsson. Sigthórsson plays Striker for storied French club FC Nantes (and he formerly played for two Dutch clubs, Ajax and AZ Alkmaar). Sigthórsson, who is 25, has scored 17 goals in just 31 internationals – which is a very good goals-to-games ratio, indeed.

To round out the prominent squad members circa 2015 (ie, non-starters who have gotten some playing time recently), there are 2 young strikers (25 or 26 years-old), and there is one Ancient Mariner, all three of whom get the odd start, or come off the bench, for Iceland. One of the youngsters plays pro football in Greece, and the other youngster plays pro football in China (huh?). And speaking of the ersatz Chinese Super League, the all-time highest-scoring Iceland international, the 37-year-old Eiður Guðjohnsen, is currently playing in China for Shijiazhuang Ever Bright. Gudjohnsen has scored 25 goals in 80 appearances for Iceland. The well-traveled power-Forward’s CV includes 2 Premier League title-medals with Chelsea, 1 La Liga title-win and a UEFA Champions League title-win with Barcelona, and stops in Iceland, Netherlands, Greece, Monaco, Belgium, and the English second division (Bolton, last season). So, who can blame Gudjohnsen for cashing in at the China league, before hanging up his boots? (The Chinese Super League, where they throw crazy-cash at aging top-class football stars past their prime, for the supposed prestige.) Circa the mid-to-late-2000s, Eidur Gudjohnsen was for a long time the most prominent representative of Icelandic football and was for a long time the talismanic-striker for Iceland. Now, at the age of 37, he is still on the squad, and is still coming off the bench, and is still leading-by-example in the dressing room. And, well, that is just great to see.

In case you are wondering, currently (mid-September 2015), there are 2 players on the Iceland national team squad who play in the Iceland 1st division, though one is a 40-year-old back-up ‘keeper and the other a defensive sub (both play for the largest sports club in Iceland, Breidablik [Breiðablik UBK], who are based in the Reykjavik suburb of Kópavogur. {Note, a map of Iceland can be found in the squad-chart near the foot of this post.}

Iceland national team…
First of all, it is not as if Icelandic football suddenly came out nowhere. Because the Iceland national team was good enough, a couple years back, to make it as far as the 2014 FIFA World Cup Qualification Second Round (play-offs) – where, in November 2013, Iceland fell at the last hurdle to Croatia, 0-2 aggregate. Now, two years later on, Iceland, with a population of around just 329,000 {2015 estimate}, has become the smallest-ever nation to qualify for one of the biggest football tournaments in the world, The Euros. This side from the tiny and far-northern Nordic island-nation of Iceland all but cemented their qualification by recently beating the Netherlands national team, in Amsterdam, North Holland. That happened on 3 September 2015, before 50,275 at Ajax’ Amsterdam Arena (capacity 53 K). Iceland, who had only a 38% possession rate versus the Dutch that game, won 0-1 on a 51st minute penalty kick by Gylfi Sigurðsson. By the way, three thousand Iceland supporters made the 1,250 mile air journey from Reykjavik to Amsterdam to attend that match in the Dutch capital. That meant that exactly 1 percent of the entire population of the nation of Iceland was there to cheer on their beloved team, whom they call Strákarnir okkar (Our boys).

After 8 of the 10 games for the qualifying Group A, the top scorer in the group is Iceland attacking-Midfielder/Winger Gylfi Sigurðsson (who plays professionally for Premier League club Swansea City AFC). Sigurdsson has notched 5 goals in 8 matches.

Iceland national team coach(es)…
Iceland has a dual-coach set-up.

The elder of the two joint-head-coaches is the 67-year-old Swede Lars Lagerbäck, who led Sweden to 2 FIFA World Cups (2002 & 2006) and 2 UEFA Euros (2004 & 2008) – then resigned after Sweden failed in the 2010 WC qualification. Lagerbäck then signed on as Iceland national team coach in 2011. At the same time in 2011, the Iceland football association (KSI) also appointed now-46-year-old Iceland-native Heimir Hallgrímsson as assistant coach of Iceland. Then in 2014, the two signed new contracts and became joint-managers (Lagerbäck plans to retire following the 2016 Euros).

Captain of Iceland squad…
Aron Gunnarsson, CMF/DM (who plays for Welsh club Cardiff City of the English second division). Aron Gunnarsson. Cardiff City Defensive-Midfielder Aron Gunnarsson is captain of the Iceland squad and is one of two Iceland starters born in the tiny northern Iceland port-town of Akureyri, which is located 246 km (153 mi) NE of capital-city Reykjavic {note: Akureyri’s location on the map is shown in the squad-chart illustration further below}. The other Akureyri-born Iceland starter is FC Basel Winger Birkir Bjarnaon. Both have scored twice in the 2016 Euros qualifiers, and both started in the historic match of Iceland v Kazakhstan, in Reykjavik, on 6 Sept. 2015. That match ended 0-0, before a sell-out-crowd of 9.7 K at the national team home ground, Laugardalsvöllur. That one point Iceland got from that draw clinched qualification for them, and they now are going to France next summer.

Akureyri, pop. 18,900: the second city of Iceland…
Photo and Image credits above – Mike Powell at Akureyri – Iceland’s Second City (

The following article has a whole bunch of great photos and a good write-up. From the Iceland For 91 Days blog, from 17 Oct. 2013, by Mike Powell, Akureyri – Iceland’s Second City.
Akureyri is only a few miles from the Arctic Circle (about 100 km or 60 mi S of the Arctic Circle). Akureyri is further north than Fairbanks, Alaska, and it has a population of only around 18.9 K. Yet this small and stunningly beautiful fishing village is actually the fourth largest municipality in Iceland, and second-largest urban area in the country. Akureyi has an ice-free port, year-round, thanks to the unusual geothermic conditions there in Iceland. Iceland sits atop the constantly-and-incrementally widening Mid-Atlantic Ridge – thus geothermic activities such as heat vents, geysers, lava floes, and volcanoes are common there. From the Wikipedia page linked to in the sentence above, “Although the Mid-Atlantic Ridge is mostly an underwater feature, portions of it have enough elevation to extend above sea level. The section of the ridge that includes the island of Iceland is also known as the Reykjanes Ridge. The ridge has an average spreading rate of about 2.5 cm per year.” At the following link, you can see two photos of geologic features that the Ridge has produced in Iceland, as well as a map of Iceland which shows the Ridge there and the active volconos (the red triangles),

In fact, Icelanders by-and-large do not have to pay much at all for energy and for heat in their home residences, thanks to geothermal power plants in Iceland. From the Wikipedia page Geothermal power in Iceland,…”Five major geothermal power plants exist in Iceland, which produce approximately 26.2% (2010) of the nation’s energy. In addition, geothermal heating meets the heating and hot water requirements of approximately 87% of all buildings in Iceland. Apart from geothermal energy, 73.8% of the nation’s electricity is generated by hydro power.”. That and much more (such as the facts that Iceland is…”where people buy the most books; where life expectancy for men is the highest in the world, and not far behind for women; [and] it’s the only country in NATO with no armed forces (they were banned 700 years ago)”)…all that is touched upon in the following long but excellent article from, from May 2008, written by John Carlin, No wonder Iceland has the happiest people on earth (

    Iceland national team – starting line-up (Best XI) from match which clinched their qualification for the 2016 Euros…

Note: you can click on the image below to place it in a separate page (for easier viewing).

(Iceland starting squad from 6 September 2015, Iceland 0-0 Kazakhstan. Laugardalsvöllur, Reykjavik, Iceland, attendance: 9,767.)
Photo and Image credits above -
Coaches’ photo, by Laurie Dieffembacq at
Iceland-on-globe map, by Ninrouter at File:Iceland (orthographic projection).svg.
Iceland topographic blank map, by NordNordWest/ derivative work: Виктор В, at File:Iceland relief map.jpg ( [Segment of] Iceland map (for the Arctic Circle dotted-line), by Burmesedays at File:Iceland Regions map.png (
Squad -

Hannes Þór Halldórsson (NEC [Netherlands]), photo by Getty Images via
RB, Birkir Már Sævarsson (Hammarby [Sweden]), photo by CB, Kári Árnason (Malmö FF), photo by Jean Catuffe at CB, Ragnar Sigurðsson (FK Krasnodar [Russia]), photo by Eurofootball via LB, Ari Freyr Skúlason (OB [Denmark]), photo by Lars Ronbog at
RW, Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson (Charlton Athletic [England, 2nd division]), photo unattributed at CMF, Aron Gunnarsson (Cardiff City [Welsh club playing in England, 2nd division]), photo by Huw Evans photo agency via AMF, Gylfi Sigurðsson (Swansea City [Welsh club playing in England's Premier League ), photo by /photos/Gylfi+Sigurdsson/Swansea+City+v+Manchester+City+Premier+League/ACMKzg5lozM"> LW, Birkir Bjarnason (FC Basel [Switzerland]), photo by Simon Hofmann at
CF, Kolbeinn Sigþórsson (FC Nantes [France]), photo by Jean-Sebastien Evrard at CF, Jón Daði Böðvarsson (Viking [Norway]), photo by NTP Scanpix via
Other player-options on 2015 Iceland national team,
CF, Eiður Guðjohnsen (Shijiazhuang Ever Bright [China]), photo from
CF, Viðar Örn Kjartansson (Jiangsu Guoxin-Sainty [China]), photo [image] from a screenshot of a video at [uploaded by Василий Мантулин].
CF, Alfreð Finnbogason (Olympiacos [Greece]), photo by Olympiakos FC via Twitter feed of Alfred Finbogason, [tweet for 9 Aug. 2015].
-Squad celebrating after beating the Czechs in Reykjavic in June 2015, photo by Getty Images via at Iceland down Czech Republic to top Group A 9article from 12 June 2015].
Thanks to all at the links below…
-UEFA Euro 2016.
-Iceland (
-Photos of Reykjavic stadia, is on the blogroll here.

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