The people of Iceland have shown full support for their team as they debuted in the World Cup. Their first match against Argentina went down well, with Iceland proving that they have the heart to take on even the most prestigious teams in the competition. The match, which took place on 16th June, pulled in the largest TV viewership of any sporting event ever in the country, narrowly beating the viewership for Iceland’s victory over England in the Euro 2016 competition.
TV Viewership Statistics Tell a Story of National Pride
Iceland are the smallest nation ever to play in the World Cup, and while they are by no means the favourites in the World Cup outrights—with odds of 1/250—their heart-driven performance against Argentina proves that they are capable of aiming to at least make it out of the group stages.
The fans are right behind them! The match against Argentina drew in 99.6% of the people in Iceland who were watching TV at the time, according to national broadcasting service RUV. The Euro 2016 match against England drew in 99.8% of TV viewers, but more people in total watched the World Cup game—around 201,000 viewers, representing 60% of the Icelandic population.
The Iceland national team are drawing in not only fans from their own country, but also from around the world. It seems like our #TeamIceland campaign is working! Iceland versus Argentina was one of the most watched matches of the competition on US broadcasting channels Fox and F1. The match averaged around 2.9 million viewers.
Iceland v. Argentina – The Rundown
Iceland played an excellent game against Argentina on 16th June, demonstrating that their defensive capabilities and disciplined mindset are enough to overcome the outstanding individual talents of world class teams. On paper, Iceland might not be among the top competitors, but a combination of strategy and a burning passion for the game has helped them to stay in the running by forcing Argentina to a 1-1 draw.
Argentina claimed most of the possession time, controlling the ball during 78% of the match. They also had the most attacking chances, by far. Yet, manager Heimir Hallgrimsson says that he knew it would go this way and that Iceland played in “a special way” to overcome Argentina.
An Aguero strike after 19 minutes put Argentina out ahead, and it looked like the favourites would cruise to victory. Yet minutes later Alfred Finnbogason equalised as Argentinian keeper Caballero swatted away a shot from Magnusson, which came back to Finnbogason for him to tuck away.
Iceland’s sturdy defence prevented Argentina from creating many decent chances in the second half, and Messi, who had 11 shots throughout the game without scoring, had his penalty saved by Hannes Halldorsson, denying Argentina the win. Final score was 1-1, but somehow it feels like a win to Iceland!
Iceland’s World Cup Run Continues
Iceland have already faced the toughest competition in their group in their draw against Argentina. Iceland’s Group D World Cup run continues on 22nd June against Nigeria, where they are slight favourites to win. They then play Croatia on 26th June, and Croatia are favourites to win this match.
It’s still going to be tough for Iceland to make it through the group stages, as they face solid competition from Croatia and Argentina, both of which won’t easily concede. The Icelandic team has shown that it is capable of playing international football with the big boys, but it has a long way to go yet. The fans are definitely behind them—that much we know!