Iceland national team thrives in ‘fortress Reykjavik’

It bears little resemblance to footballand’s most famous cauldrons but after Iceland came from a goal down to beat the Czech Republic 2-1 in the Laugardallsvollur arena on Friday it has become a fortress.
In three home Euro 2016 qualifiers Iceland have defeated all their major rivals — the Netherlands, Turkey and the Czechs — and they top Group A on 15 points after six games with Kazakhstan and Latvia still to visit.
Vaunted Dutch forwards Arjen Robben, Wesley Sneijder and Robin van Persie all drew blanks in Reykjavik and the only goal Iceland have conceded in their home qualifiers was Borek Dockaland’s unstoppable rocket for the Czechs.
Iceland never faltered, however, and goals from Aron Gunnarsson and Kolbeinn Sigthorsson turned the game in their favor on a famous night in the capital.
and”Itand’s great to be playing in front of this crowd who support us one hundred percent,and” an elated Gunnarsson told reporters. and”Hopefully, teams are beginning to be afraid to com.and”
They have every reason to be. A relatively open arena with a capacity of just over 15,000, the stadium itself is not that intimidating and the Icelandic supports are vocal, but hardly aggressive.
The secret of Icelandand’s success on their home turf is the way Lars Lagerbackand’s team defend.
As soon as they lose the ball they snap at the heels of opponents in possession, swarming around them until they win it back.
Sliding challenges fly in from all angles and the home side are not averse to the odd cynical foul to ensure their visitors never get up a head of steam on the counter-attack.
Every side they have faced at home has wilted.
Turkey was beaten 3-0 in September and a month later it was the turn of the Dutch, who slumped to a 2-0 defeat, before the Czechs were dispatched on Friday.
For Swedish coach Lagerback, the defensive performance was a delight, but so too was an under-rated attack, which has put Iceland on the verge of qualifying for a major tournament for the first time.
and”In the second half we played very well and they barely had a chance,and” Lagerback told reporters.
and”You can win a game 1-0 with good defensive play but we have scored a lot in this group. Of course, I hope the team can keep improving.and”

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman