After the comprehensive defeat in Turkey, the Faroe Islands will be hoping to bounce back when they take on Luxembourg at home this Tuesday evening.
While the Faroe Islands succumbed to a 4-0 drumming in Istanbul, Luxembourg, on the other hand, made light work of Lithuania as they claimed a 2-0 victory in Vilnius, thanks to a double from Danel Sinani.
Luxembourg will provide a much more equitable test than Turkey; however, they are no longer the European whipping boys. In fact, Luxembourg are impressively working their way up the European footballing pyramid. Many believe this is somewhat of a golden generation in Luxembourgian football, under the tutelage of national legend Luc Holtz. In recent years they have defeated the Republic of Ireland in Dublin, drawn away to France, and currently sit a respectable 94th in the FIFA World Rankings (a long way from their 195th standing in 2006!).
The landlocked western European country with a population of just over 645,000 nowadays has many players plying their trade at high levels in football worldwide, as they have developed a remarkably competitive footballing team. Midfielders Christopher Martins and Leandro Barreiro are at Russian giants Spartak Moscow and Bundesliga side Mainz 05, respectively. Star players Olivier Thill and Gerson Rodrigues are both in Turkey with Eyüpspor. In addition, Thill’s brothers, Sébastien (Sheriff Tiraspol) and Vincent (Örebro), are both also prominent members of the side. Sébastien scored the winner away to Real Madrid in the Champions League this season, becoming the first Luxembourgish player to score in the tournament’s history. That’s something to tell the grandchildren!
Winger Danel Sinani is currently at Championship outfit Huddersfield, commanding centre-back Maxime Chanot plays in the MLS with New York City, and captain Laurent Jens stars at Sparta Rotterdam in the Eredivisie.These players and many others have played a considerable part in the nation’s upturn in results.
And with many youngsters, such as Fabio Lohei (Metz), Yvandro Borges Sanches (Borussia Mönchengladbach), and Mathias Olesen (Köln) coming through, the future also looks bright for Luxembourgian football.
In terms of team news, the Faroes hope winger Meinhard Olsen will be back after sustaining a nasty eye injury in training, which meant he missed the Turkey game. In addition, the side are sweating on the fitness of talismanic captain Hallur Hansson who suffered a nasty knee injury collision in the game.
Regarding the knee and the upcoming match, Hansson stated: “We will test the knee today to see. But I really want to be fit, to help the team show that what happened in turkey won’t happen again. We were all very frustrated and down after the game because of the level we performed at, so everyone is highly motivated to change that perception tomorrow night.”
Some places are up for debate in team news, with questions of who between Klæmint Olsen or Patrik Johannesen starts upfront and Hørður Askham or Sonni Nattestad in defence. I personally would pick Klæmint and bring Patrik on to run at a tiring defence and choose Nattestad to start at centre-back for his superior pace against a rapid Luxembourgish front-line, as well as his potency at dead ball situations. But the most important opinion is that of head coach Håkan Ericson.
Here is my probable line-up:
GK- Gunnar Nielsen
RB- René Shaki Joensen
CB- Odmar Færø
CB- Sonni Nattestad
LB- Viljormur Davidsen
CDM- Gunnar Vatnhamar
CM- Hallur Hansson (Captain)
CM- Sølvi Vatnhamar
LW- Meinhard Olsen
ST- Klæmint Olsen
RW- Gilli Rólantsson
The Faroe Islands have lost their last five competitive games, scoring just three and conceding 13. But things aren’t all doom and gloom; in fact, in five previous meetings between the two nations, the Faroes come out on top, winning four and drawing the other. But the last meeting of the two was in 2010, and Luxembourg are now a completely different proposition for Landsliðið to conquer.
Looking forward to the match left-back Viljormur Davidsen defiantly asserted: “We want to bounce back from the last game and give the fans a great performance at home!”
The Faroe Islands v Luxembourg takes place at Tórsvøllur on Tuesday June 7th, kicking off at 19:45 BST. Let’s hope a vibrant home support cheers the boys on to triumph.