The biggest surprise of the Euro 20165th Jul 2016 |
Some tournaments have many big surprises, which makes it hard to decide which the biggest one is. But this tournament has not been one of those. Like Costa Rica in the 2014 World Cup, Iceland has sent huge waves of surprise through the world by reaching the quarter finals of Euro 2016 when everyone expected them to be knocked out in the group stages.
In fact, the surprises of Costa Rica and Iceland are easily comparable. The difference might be that Costa Rica faced opposition that was quite a lot better, while Iceland had much easier opposition in the group stage. Taking into account that Costa Rica has about 13 times more inhabitants than Iceland, I think we must conclude with saying that Iceland is the biggest surprise of the two.
But we have become quite used to surprises from Iceland for quite a while now. They defeated Netherlands, Turkey and Czech Republic in the qualification stages. Those results showed us that this was a team to take seriously, but few people dared to predict Iceland becoming one the eight best teams in the competition.
Iceland actually won just one single game in the Euros before they lost to France in the quarter final. That was against England in the round of 16, where they won 2-1. All the goals of the game were scored within 16 minutes, and Iceland gave us a great performance from there on. And not only the team – the Icelandic supporters gave us a show that was almost as good as the game. The draws from the group stages came against Austria, Hungary and Portugal.
The only other team that can be considered to be even remotely comparable to Iceland when it comes to surprises is Wales, which is now ready for the semi-finals.