PREVIEW - Hungary bid to extend hot streak over Iceland
By Ed Osmond
MARSEILLE, France (Reuters) - Two of the surprise teams of the opening round of matches at Euro 2016 meet on Saturday when Iceland face Hungary in Group F.
Iceland came from behind to draw their first game in the tournament 1-1 with section favourites Portugal while the Hungarians secured a convincing 2-0 victory over Austria.
Hungary, twice World Cup runners-up who are playing in the European Championship finals for the first time since 1972 when they reached the semis, have won their last five games against Iceland.
“You can see how they (Hungary) are progressing as a squad and a team," Iceland manager Heimir Hallgrimsson told reporters.
"They are a really compact and solid team, known for their defensive side of the game, but against Austria you could see how strong they are in attack. All praise goes to Bernd Storck and the coaching team.”
Hungary forward Balazs Dzsudzsak scored in a 4-0 victory the last time the sides met, in a 2011 friendly, and Iceland will need to reproduce the resilience that subdued Portugal and three-times world player of the year Cristiano Ronaldo.
"Our defending was fantastic, we were well organised and worked really hard," Hallgrimsson said.
"It's difficult to single out any individual player as they all deserve credit for a stirring team effort," he added.
"With a win against Hungary we'd probably be almost there and holding the group's strongest team to a draw should be a massive confidence boost.
"It's really good to have a point. We can go a little bit more relaxed into the next game."
Iceland are playing in their first major tournament and they will not be distracted from their preparations by any thought of celebrating the country's Independence Day on Friday.
“Celebrate tomorrow? After practice? Is that day tomorrow?," forward Johann Gudmundsson said.
"No, we are not celebrating, we will let the fans do that. Hopefully, we can celebrate after the game.”
(Editing by Ken Ferris)