By Gabrielle Amado
Portugal: William Carvalho
Yet another product of Sporting Lisbon's youth academy, William Carvalho made his way through the ranks in the Portuguese capital from 2005-2011. After a pair of loan stints from 2011-2013, he made his much-anticipated senior debut for Sporting in the 2013/14 season and has not disappointed since. .
William was named player of the tournament after his impressive 2015 U-21 EURO campaign for Portugal, playing every minute of every match along the way. His performance helped Portugal reach the final where they lost to Sweden in penalties, ironically because of William's decisive miss from the spot.
William’s presence on the pitch is felt the second he steps into midfield. Although not particularly fleet of foot, he has excellent vision of the game and serves as a distributor of the ball for both Portugal and Sporting Lisbon. He remains calm under pressure, never visibly flustered, and rarely loses possession of the ball.
His imposing physical stature and aggressive style of play allows him to dominate the midfield in both offensive and defensive moments of the game. While he is labeled primarily as a defensive midfielder, he does not shy away from pushing forward, something Cristiano Ronaldo and the Portuguese front line will assuredly appreciate.
William will be battling teammate Danilo Pereira for the starting XI nod against Iceland. Both are strong options in the defensive midfield role but Carvalho’s offensive characteristics may give in him the edge for manager Fernando Santos .
Iceland: Sverrir Ingi Ingason & Hordur Magnusson
Iceland have qualified for the UEFA Euro 2016 for the first time in history and decided bring aboard some youngsters in their defense. Two players to keep your eye on: Sverrir Ingi Ingason and Hordur Magnusson.
Sverrir Ingi Ingason has played at KSC Lokeren since February of 2015, appearing in every league match for the Belgian side and scoring a goal along the way. At 22, he has garnered 16 caps and 3 goals for Iceland, scoring his first this March in their 3-2 win over Greece and picking up his latest at the beginning of the month.
Ingason has proven time and time again that he poses a serious threat in the box. He is strong in the air and dangerous on set pieces as his last two goals for Iceland were nearly identical headers delivered through set pieces.
Hordur Magnusson, who will also be in the back line for Iceland, presents a different set of skills. Magnusson has been with Juventus since 2011, playing on their U19 squad before going on a series of loan stints. His latest brought him to AC Cesena where he has been since 2014. With that loan set to expire this month, word on the transfer market is that QPR is interested in permanently signing the Icelandic defender from Juventus.
Magnusson plays at center back for club side Cesena but his versatility allows him to double as left back if needed. At 6’3’’, his height gives him an advantage in the box and he is not afraid to get physical and put his body into a challenges. His best asset may be his speed, which allows him to react quickly and outrun his opponents. He is quick to get back into position and rarely fails to recuperate possession when his defense is caught on the counter.
Due to both of these players’ young age and slight lack of experience, neither may be featured on Iceland’s starting lineup. But as Iceland turns the page and makes their mark on the European football stage, this Icelandic pair of defenders is one to keep an eye out for.