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Iceland, a nation of 300,00 with a film director
in goal and a dentist in the dug-out – it's

a World Cup cliché dream of brave underdogs
punching above their weight.

While Iceland's achievement of qualifying
as the smallest ever nation to do so in terms

of population is remarkable, to focus on that
rather than the quality of their football

is both a disservice and lazy commentary.
Iceland line up in a 4-4-1-1, with Gylfi Sigurdsson
the link man to striker Alfred Finnbogason.

In a defensive posture, which is how Iceland
spend a lot of their games, this becomes more

of a 4-4-2, with both the two front players

One will take the man, and the other will
look to press the inside passing channel.

This is because Iceland, like other good 4-4-2
defence-orientated sides, want the opposition

to go wide most of the time.
By closing a central passing lane, especially
against sides who like to build play from

the back by retaining possession, Iceland
can use the touchline as an additional defender,

and double up by pushing the full back high,
moving a central midfielder over, or having

one of the top two work hard to get back.
If the opposition do manage to break this
by-line press, Iceland do not then rush in

to try to rectify the situation, though.
If the opposition find space out wide, Iceland
tuck in and try to cut off passing options,

rather than recklessly close the man and get
caught out of position.

The full back stays back and a wide midfield
or striker angles their body to block inward

passes, shepherding the opposition player
into a cul-de-sac, rather than rushing at

them and risking being bypassed.
It's methodical and intelligent defensive
positioning, pressing when it's situationally

sensible and not otherwise.
Should the opposition attack centrally, the
two central players will drop off and hassle,

without, again, pressing to frantically.
One of the two central midfielders does push
up, but generally only if the opposition have

their back to the Iceland goal.
The aim is to present a unified mid-level
block with no dog-legs, rather than needlessly

pressing the man and leaving a gap.
Iceland try to encourage teams to need to
move the ball wide, rather than give them

the chance to play through.
Should the mid-level block be penetrated,
though, Iceland's centre backs to push up

to snap into tackles.
This forces the opposition strikers to play
the ball back and, given the size and positional

ability of the Iceland defenders, is not as
risky as you might think.

One or both midfielders will also drop off
to try to win the second ball, should the

centre back's tackle force the ball loose
into open play.

Should the opposition break on the counter-attack,
Iceland do rush back to cover, but their efforts

are to channel the opposition into the central
column of the pitch.

The wide midfielders run in-field, while the
forwards and centre midfielders look to recover

their position.
This squeezes the opposition towards the centre
backs and seeks to prevent the ball being

released into space on the overlap.
It's the one time that Iceland actively
funnel play centrally rather than out-wide,

looking to congest the middle and prevent
quick balls out wide while their team is on

the back foot.
Iceland's defensive play is the product
of intelligent coaching, hard work, and constant

communication to ensure that on pitch, every
player know what they should be doing and

Their attack shows some intricacy as well:
while they tend to look long for Finbogason,

with Sigurdsson and the wide players pushing
up in support, they can play some good flowing

But it's in defence that Iceland really

To say that they are 'over-achieving'
might be true in the reductive terms of population,

but Iceland are a footballing team to be reckoned
with, not just a heart-warming story or

a series of clichés.


FIFA WFIFA World Cup 201: Why Iceland Are Better Than You Might Think

774 タグ追加 保存
Han Hui 何 2018 年 6 月 24 日 に公開
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