Iceland full-back Sif Atladottir has highlighted the technical ability of her country’s young generation of players as key to getting a result against France in their final Euro 2022 group fixture on Monday evening.
Iceland’s squad for this summer’s tournament is a real mix of youth and experience. Atladottir is one of nine players aged 30 or older, while wingers Sveindís Jane Jónsdóttir and Karólína Lea Vilhjálmsdóttir are aged 21 and 20, and have been instrumental for their side thus far with their trickery and creativity down either flank.
The pair both play their domestic football in the Bundesliga for Wolfsburg and Bayern Munich, and Atladottir explained that having Icelandic players in top European leagues is hugely beneficial for the national team.
“I think our young generation is a bit different from maybe the last generation that has played against France,” Atladottir told 90min FR.
“Our young generation is technically better in many ways and the young players are going abroad so they’re learning quicker in the professional game and higher leagues. I think a certain amount of speed and football intelligence will accompany the effort from us.
“So I think that will be key for us to use our strengths; our technicalities and talents of the younger generation so I think it will be a fun match up to play.”
Iceland must beat France – who have already qualified for the quarter finals as group winners – on Monday to guarantee their progression to the knockout stages. A draw could also be enough, should Belgium and Italy also draw in the group’s other fixture.
Atladottir pointed to the strength of the French game domestically to explain the plethora of world class talent that France have at their disposal.
“Lyon and PSG have been top teams for many years in Europe,” she added. “I think France, with Lyon and PSG, they bought into women’s football quite a while ago and invested in it and you can see it in the quality of the players, both technically and physically.
“So I think that’s why France is always a top team in any competition they compete in, which has been really fun to see and it’s always a tough match to play.”
Atladottir is one of five mothers in the Iceland squad – the most out of any team at Euro 2022 – alongside Dagny Brynjarsdottir, Sandra Sigurdardottir, Elisa Vidarsdottir and Sara Bjork Gunnarsdottir.
The 37-year-old has two children, and she believes motherhood has enabled her to put football in perspective.
“When I had my first baby I understood that football is a game and to us as football players it’s a profession, not something that defines us and the kids don’t care if I win or lose, they’re just happy to see me.
“If I start dragging work home or anything, it just breaks them down and I don’t want to do that. So for me it’s the perspective of: it’s a game, we win or lose and you learn from it.
“My focus is more when I’m on practice, because I’m taking a time away from my kids and my family so I think I’ve been more focused of utilising the time that I have in football and understanding that will come to an end at some point.
“You get a different perspective because when you’re just by yourself you don’t have to think about anyone but yourself and you can get consumed and get in a tough situation when it gets hard, but the kids bring you back to what matters in life.
“I think that was a really good point of view that I got from when I had my first kid and with the second it’s just more chaotic but it’s awesome at the same moment!”