If there’s any cause for concern, it’s that this season with Everton was a bit of a down year. Sigurdsson struggled as a midseason coaching change and a knee injury shortened his season by eight games.(understat.com) Another player to keep an eye on is Alfred Finnbogason, who plies his trade in the Bundesliga for Augsburg FC. The 29-year-old striker just completed his best club season with career highs in goals (12), expected goals per 90 minutes (0.55) and expected assists per 90 (0.17). Finnbogason aided his country’s cause with three goals during the qualifying phase. But though Iceland has won hearts, its hard to see it advancing beyond its group, much less winning the World Cup. Most bookmakers have the team at around 200-1 odds to win it all and it’s hard to argue, given their draw in a difficult group with Argentina, Nigeria and Croatia. Argentina and Croatia are the clear favorites to advance and Iceland placing ahead of them would be an accomplishment on par with their heroics at Euros. Even if Iceland can somehow claw out of Group D, its round-of-16-matchup would likely be France, a tournament favorite that ultimately ended Iceland’s story at Euros.
Still, there is a reason Iceland is many people’s second-favorite team. It would be hard to call its style beautiful, but there’s something about the team and its fans that make watching them an absolute joy. Though they don’t boast nearly the individual talent as many of this year’s entries, there is strength in their collective. If a team wants to take points off Iceland, it’s going to have to earn them.
So if you want to root for the team that’s going to win it all, go cheer for Brazil, France or Germany. If you want to stand with quite literally an entire nation, boom-boom-CLAP with Iceland.Ian is a lifelong soccer fan and the host of The American Soccer Analysis Show podcast. He’s also the author of Expected Narratives, a weekly column for American Soccer Analysis, and is a contributor at totalmls.net. Follow him on Twitter @ahandleforian.The World Cup is coming. Want smart analysis, opinions, viewing guides and more? Sign up for our month-long newsletter. First edition coming on June 13th.More World Cup coverage:World Cup 2018 schedule and results2018 World Cup groups: Previews and predictionsTake our quiz: How much do you know about World Cup hosts?World Cup 2018 rosters: Every team, every playerCan Russia, with its history of racist attacks and hooligans, put on a World Cup welcome?Perspective from one of the Men in Blazers: Soccer is here to stay in America, World Cup berth or notA die-hard soccer fan lands dream assignment: A Russia 2018 World Cup newsletterThis American World Cup superfan will surpass his 150th match in Russia this summer