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Iceland playing for high stakes against Netherlands

Published: Tuesday 16 July 2013, 15.25CET
Iceland goalkeeper Gudbjörg Gunnarsdóttir produced a world-class display against Germany but hopes to be less busy in Wednesday's "all-or-nothing" game against the Netherlands.
by Ian Holyman
from Vaxjo
Iceland playing for high stakes against Netherlands
Gudbjörg Gunnarsdóttir wants to see improvement against the Dutch ©AFP/Getty Images
 

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Published: Tuesday 16 July 2013, 15.25CET

Iceland playing for high stakes against Netherlands

Iceland goalkeeper Gudbjörg Gunnarsdóttir produced a world-class display against Germany but hopes to be less busy in Wednesday's "all-or-nothing" game against the Netherlands.

Downcast after traipsing off the Växjö Arena pitch on Sunday evening, Iceland goalkeeper Gudbjörg Gunnarsdóttir was not entirely in the mood to discuss her brilliant, almost single-handed defiance of Germany.

Yes, the five-time champions had run out 3-0 winners, but the scoreline would have looked a lot uglier from an Icelandic point of view had Gunnarsdóttir not produced one of the stand-out performances of the tournament. "It's a team sport, but I do have to try and take some positives from the game," Gunnarsdóttir told UEFA.com before rapidly focusing on the decisive final group match against the Netherlands.

"It's all or nothing; we have to win to stay in the competition. We have to attack better. We hardly got over the halfway line against Germany; they read everything. We have to think of better ways to attack against the Netherlands. And we have to do better in defence – we can't win any game if we concede three goals."

Should Sigurdur Eyjólfsson's side require any guidance with regard to the defensive arts, the Netherlands' resolute display against Germany in their opening Group B encounter would be an excellent reference point. That said, the counterattacking prowess of Roger Reijners' squad, which almost brought them victory, would also provide somewhat unpalatable food for thought.

"If they play the same way defensively as against Germany, it's going to be tough for us to score, and with their speed up top we'll struggle if they play the same way," midfielder Katrín Ómarsdóttir warned. "It won't be to our advantage if they play like that. We'll have to find some way to be more creative offensively."

Team-mate Sara Björk Gunnarsdóttir added: "I was surprised; they were really disciplined, and they've got some really quick players. I'm playing with one of them [at FC Malmö], Manon Melis. She's really quick; we have to watch her. We have to watch out for the forwards and try and keep close to them and not give them time."

Not only must they stifle the Netherlands, Iceland must also score if they hope to give themselves a chance of qualifying for the last eight as one of the two best third-placed finishers at the very least. Having picked up their maiden point at this level with the 1-1 draw against Norway, there is a quiet determination within the Iceland squad to now take their next historic step forward.

"We have great belief we can go through to the last eight. We'll give everything we can to do that," Sara Bjork Gunnarsdóttir told UEFA.com, while namesake Gudbjörg underlined the message, saying: "We believe we can do it." Asked what the team's approach to the game at the Växjö Arena would be, Ómarsdóttir was more unequivocal still: "Win."

Last updated: 16/07/13 21.22CET

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