Fresh from leaving England aching, Iceland’s joint-coach and part-time dentist Heimir Hallgrimsson senses a cavity to be filled in France’s Euro 2016 campaign.
Hallgrimsson also believes his outside profession has been a help in plotting Iceland’s amazing run at the Euro tournament where his team will meet the hosts in Paris on Sunday.
While the Iceland camp is overjoyed with the global attention they have been getting since beating England 2-1 on Monday, Hallgrimsson said he is “a bit fed up” with questions about his civilian job.
“I don’t think that I am less a coach because I am a dentist, it’s just a profession like all other professions, I don’t think education makes a person any worse,” he said at the team base yesterday.
“In Icelandic football, coaches are not paid full-time. I am lucky I have an education in dentistry. In many ways I think it helps doing what we do with the players.
“If you are a dentist, you have to treat a patient, sometimes they are scared. Probably it is the same with players, you have to speak to players in different ways so it helps me probably.”
Iceland will certainly face a tougher challenge against a French team playing before an 80,000-plus home-dominated crowd at the national stadium than they did against England.
But Hallgrimsson, who shares coaching duties with Swedish manager Lars Lagerback, believes there are cracks in the French veneer.
“We like to think so. But we’re not going to tell the media what we think is their weakness,” Hallgrimsson said.
“We will definitely try to use what we consider France’s weaknesses,” defender Ragnar Sigurdsson, man-of-the-match in the England win, said separately.
Iceland also want to use their growing confidence to attack more. “I think you can agree with me that we have been playing better and better throughout the competition, and I think you can agree with me that our best game is still to come,” said the coach.
The attacking desire was also highlighted by Sigurdsson, who plays with Krasnodar in Russia but is now reportedly wanted by English Premier League sides.
“We can try to keep the ball a bit more, be a bit more offensive, we have been defending a lot. That is what we wanted to do but it is not easy against good teams to keep the ball,” Sigurdsson told reporters.
The Iceland team spent Wednesday playing golf and taking a selective look at their media coverage around the world.
“There is no point getting sucked into all that. We are happy that people like us as a team and are supporting us. That’s brilliant,” said veteran defender Kari Arnason.
Iceland are aware of France’s strengths and their status as match favourites. And as against England, the game plan is clearly to try and turn that against Didier Deschamps’ stars.
“They have players who are playing key roles in the best teams in the world,” said Hallgrimsson.
“When you are a team like Iceland, it is so necessary to be relaxed then you can show your best. “There is a big difference in the pressure on Iceland and on France. France cannot lose the game, it would be horrible for the French nation. But the Icelandic people would be happy if we get a good performance against France.”
But realism is also a key part of the game plan. “You dream big,” declared the coach. “But we are realistic, we can play the best game of our lives and still lose against France.”
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