A couple of years ago, we were all super excited about the emergence of Iceland, weren’t we?
They were brand new, tough to beat and relatively easy-on-the-eye, and as they thunder-clapped their way into Euro 2016 we collectively thought: “Well, good for them!”
But then of course, they knocked England out of the big tournament in France and suddenly they lost a little bit of their appeal, but their underdog story lives on all the same.
There’s just something about ‘small’ teams at international level, isn’t there?
Greece’s success at Euro 2004 still ranks as one of the biggest shocks in recent football history, and we all got behind the likes of Costa Rica in 2014.
But now it looks like we have a new little guy to get excited about, in the form of Finland.
That’s right, the country that gave us Nokia phones, the Moomins and Kimi Raikkonen are one of the biggest success stories of the UEFA Nations League so far, maintaining an impressive 100% record through a combination of solid defending and picking a consistent line-up.
Following their 2-0 win over Greece on Monday, they’re now just one point away from promotion into League B, having also narrowly defeated Hungary and Estonia (twice) in their previous games.
Their habit of winning by slim but solid results is all the more impressive when you read into their defensive stats.
For example, in their last four matches, they’ve conceded just six SHOTS on goal, keeping four clean-sheets in the process.
Playing this style of well-organised and defensively airtight football has certainly helped the likes of Greece and Iceland in recent years, and could help Finland in their bid to qualify for Euro 2020.
- How Spain’s last competitive home defeat paved the way for Greece’s Euro 2004 win
- You think the UEFA Nations League is a waste of time? Tell that to teams like Gibraltar
- Georginio Wijnaldum has literally played in EVERY position (bar goalkeeper) in his career
WATCH: Love of the Game – Part 2