Iceland was a big trending topic in the summer of 2015 because of their great success in the Euro cup. Coming into a friendly game against Mexico, they didn’t field the same squad and word on the incorrect street they were not in match form to play. The Mexican commentators had indicated that they were on winter break in Iceland, which was somewhat misleading as they were indicating that they were not match ready. The reality is that the Icelandic players play year around in non professional indoor leagues and really only use the summer to play in leagues for the fans.
For me it’s amazing how efficient the Icelandic people are. To be ranked as number 21 in FIFA and to have so much success in Europe with a population of only about 350K. There are many cities in California that have more people than all of Iceland.
How I saw that match?
From the beginning to about the 50th minute it seemed like a really even match with both sides defending and attempting the long ball to catch the other flat footed. Mexico did get an early goal that happened in a set play (something Mexico has been really bad at) from a Giovani Dos Santos cross to Alan Pulido cutting across the top of the box to head it in.
As the match progressed in the first half, I was surprised on how the Iceland was able to move the ball. They never really put pressure on the Mexican goalie (Talavera) as they didn’t have numbers or a striker with the confidence to put a ball in position to have a chance. On the other hand, Mexico did have the ability to get close enough to move the ball around inside the box, but lacked any real movement that would threaten a goal from any one of the attacking midfielders or forwards.
How was the officiating?
The referees kept control of the game not allowing any fouls to escalate and allowing the game to move quickly. In the second half the referee could have given a penalty to Mexico, but made the right call and let the play go. The match did get a little more physical in the second half, but it was only because the Mexican players added some acting to their dives, so some of the hits looked harder than they were.
How did the fans behave?
Even after both captains of each national team gave the usual FIFA speech on values, the Mexican fans continued in their infamous ‘ehh puto’ chant. Something that is not going to jive well as this was an official FIFA date. Mexico has already been fined with FIFA saying they will continue to discipline them.
Why did all of the players have a ‘-son’ at the end of there names?
Typical Icelandic naming: A man named Jón Einarsson has a son named Ólafur. Ólafur’s last name will not be Einarsson like his father’s; it will become Jónsson, literally indicating that Ólafur is the son of Jón (Jóns + son). The same practice is used for daughters. (reference: wikipedia)
Is the coach really a part-time Dentist?
Yes, but only because its what he enjoys doing on his spare time. Helps him reboot and get away from soccer life during his off season. See more on the FIFA interview of the Heimir Hallgrimsson.