Iceland hoping for a Euro 2016 repeat
HAPPY TO RUB SHOULDERS WITH MESSI
Iceland’s Burnley winger Johann Berg Gudmundsson is relishing the prospect of facing Argentina’s five-time World Playerof-the Year Lionel Messi at next year’s World Cup in Russia.
Iceland’s reward for becoming the smallest nation to qualify for the World Cup was drawing a tough group, featuring Croatia and Nigeria as well as twice world champions Argentina.
“For a nation like Iceland, the smallest nation by far to reach the World Cup, it’s really special. We’re always going to be in the history books, which is wonderful,” Gudmundsson told the Burnley Express.
“It’s still far away, we need to concentrate on club football, but it got a bit more real that we were going to be at the World Cup when the draw was made.”
Having grabbed the headlines at Euro 2016, knocking out Roy Hodgson’s England in the last-16 before losing to hosts – and beaten finalists – France in the quarterfinals, the islanders will be aiming for a similar performance at the World Cup.
Gudmundsson, who came up against Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Antoine Griezmann of France, said he was excited to get another chance to compete against one of the best players in the world when Iceland face Argentina in their tournament opener on June 16.
“Messi is one of the best players, if not the best, who has ever touched the ball, so it’s going to be nice to test yourself against him,” the 27-year-old Gudmundsson added.
“We know it’s going to be tough, we’re going to be defending 95 percent of the time but that five percent when we play a little bit of football we may nick a goal and surprise a few people.
“We know we’re playing Argentina, we have to think about our game, how we’re going to stop them and how we’re going to make their day difficult.” –