Update: Romania loses play-off match against Iceland and won't play at EURO 2020
Update: Romania lost the play-off match for EURO 2020 against Iceland in Reykjavik on October 8. Iceland won 2-1 with two goals scored by their playmaker Gylfi Sigurdsson. Alexandru maxim scored Romania's only goal from a penalty. Iceland will play against Hungary in the play-off final in November, after Hungary beat Bulgaria 3-1 in Sofia.
Romania’s national football team plays tonight against Iceland at Reykjavik in the first play-off match for qualifying to the EURO 2020. The stake is high for the team managed by Mirel Radoi, as Romania wants to be able to play in next year’s tournament, for which Bucharest will be one of the hosts.
Romania has played two international matches against Iceland so far, both in the qualifying campaign for World Cup 1998. Romania’s “golden generation,” led by manager Anghel Iordanescu and captain Gheorghe Hagi in the field, beat Iceland in Reykjavik 4-0 in their first match. This happened exactly 24 years ago, on October 9, 1996. Romania also won the home match, 4-0 in Bucharest, in September 1997.
However, a long time has passed since then, and Romania is now only aspiring to the glory days while Iceland has become a much stronger team. Iceland was present both at the latest European Championship – EURO 2016 in France, where it made it to the quarter-finals, on the country’s first participation in an international competition, and the latest World Cup – Russia 2018.
Romania’s most recent international tournament was EURO 2016, where it didn’t move past the group stage.
However, on paper, Romania has the more valuable squad. According to Transfermarkt.com, Romania’s squad is valued at EUR 62 million compared to an estimated value of just EUR 29 million for Iceland’s squad. Romania’s most valuable player is 24-year old central midfielder Razvan Marin (Cagliari, EUR 8 mln), while Iceland’s star is 21-year old attacking midfielder Arnór Sigurdsson (CSKA Moscow, EUR 6 mln).
Romania comes after a home draw against Northern Ireland (1-1) and an away victory against Austria (3-2), both in the Nations League, in September. Meanwhile, Iceland has lost its most recent two matches: 1-5 in Belgium and 0-1 at home against England, also in the Nations League.
The team that wins tonight’s match will play against either Bulgaria or Hungary for a place at EURO 2020. The next match is scheduled for November 12.
(Photo source: Echipa Nationala de Fotbal a Romaniei Facebook page)