Euro 2016 Diary: Icelandic heaven

After 13 intense days of games, Euro 2016 celebrated the first of two rest days ahead of the upcoming round of 16 clashes.

England striker Wayne Rooney is not bothered by Republic of Ireland's progression through to the next stage.

After 13 intense days of games, Euro 2016 celebrated the first of two rest days ahead of the upcoming round of 16 clashes.

But despite the lack of games, there was still plenty of action to be seen in France. As ever, we present the pick of the more seldom-seen moments, featuring one hell of a muscular man having a go at one of the greatest players around in the game.


Icelandic former world's strongest man Magnus Ver Magnusson does not like Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portugal star hit out at Iceland in the wake of their 1-1 Group F draw on matchday one, stressing it would not achieve anything.

Magnusson, however, happily pointed out the Real Madrid man did not get his prediction entirely right. "Dear Cristiano Ronaldo," he wrote on his Facebook page. "When you said Iceland will never win anything I bet you weren't expecting this as the final results of the qualifying group.

"Have a good look you self-centered egotistical ******."

Magnusson then attached an image of the group's final standings, showing Iceland in second after its last-ditch 2-1 win over Austria on Wednesday.

Eat that Cristiano!


With the next match in Lille not scheduled until Sunday, organisers opted to move forward the relaying of the turf by 24 hours to ensure it will be ready for Germany and Slovakia's arrival.

If you've never seen an entire football pitch replaced - and Omnisport hadn't - then spending an hour beneath the roof of Stade Pierre-Mauroy was an opportunity not to be missed. Especially since there was another storm going on outside.

The replacement grass, flown in from Holland, was brought in by tractors and laid in fine lines on the neatly levelled dirt by another, slightly better tractor. It was then trimmed together, flattened, and mowed, while 10 industrial fans and men with leaf blowers did their utmost to keep the humidity from settling.

So now you know. Who says football can't be fun and educational?


When Iceland packed up the balls, boots and kit to fly out for its major tournament debut, it also brought a touch of Valhalla - the afterlife of Norse mythology - to idyllic Annecy on the fringes of the French Alps. If there is a trophy for the most tranquil and welcoming training base at Euro 2016, the newcomers from the North Atlantic have already won it.

On Thursday Omnsiport paid a visit - not for the first time - to joint coaches Lars Lagerback and Heimir Hallgrimsson, who were putting the unused players and substitutes from the 2-1 win over Austria through their paces in the sun and beginning to prepare for a huge showdown with England in the round of 16.

With the personal touch that accompanies the popular underdogs where ever they go on display yet again, some of the English journalists dispatched to cover Iceland ahead of the clash in Nice could find their loyalties divided on Monday.

But not us - we're already firmly in the Viking camp!


As the UK cast its vote on whether to remain in or leave the European Union on Thursday, maybe it was time for England captain Wayne Rooney to spread a little harmony around the British Isles. Wales face Northern Ireland in Paris on Saturday, with Englishman Martin Atkinson taking on refereeing duties.

His compatriots are also in the last-16, preparing to face Iceland, while over the water from Rooney's native Liverpool, the Republic of Ireland was gripped by euphoria after Robbie Brady's late goal sunk Italy and hauled Martin O'Neill's men through to a revenge encounter with France.

Surely, Rooney would be unable to contain his excitement.

"Not really," he shrugged. "For us we're happy England are through. Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland are competitors to us. So I'm not bothered if they're through or not to be honest."

Can't you just feel the love?


Despite finishing first in their group, Italy will have to deal with titleholders Spain in the round of 16 following the latter's defeat at the hands of Croatia. There's no denying that Antonio Conte's men face a tough task to make it to the quarter-finals, so a little help from above would have been helpful or the Italians.

Unfortunately for Italy, though, Conte has no buddies from outer space to lend him a hand. "What do I need to say about Spain? Do you want me to tell you they're rubbish? What should I say? We're coming up against one of the best sides in the world. End of," Conte said.

"Unless I've come down from the moon and think Spain are just a sparring partner."

Well, that's one fewer thing to worry about for Vicente del Bosque and his men!

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