DFB.de: Alfred you last played a Bundesliga match in January and have missed out through injury since then. How are things with you right now?
Alfred Finnbogason: I’m getting better. If I was fit I would be playing against Germany and I would hopefully be able to score a goal. Unfortunately it’s unlikely that I’ll be able to play. But you have to stay positive and look ahead.
DFB.de: Were you selected for this international break?
Finnbogason: No, I spoke with the national team head coach on the phone last week. It looks as though I will miss out on the squad because of my injury. The calf is still giving me some issues but I am in rehab training. It’s not going as well as I’d hoped so I’m having to take things a bit slower. But I think that I will return to play some games this season.
DFB.de: It’s a shame that you will miss the match because it’s not so often Germany play against Iceland. There have been four games between the two nations and the last one was over 17 years ago.
Finnbogason: I can still remember it. It was in Hamburg.DFB.de: Exactly. Germany won 3-0. But in Germany, the match a few weeks before that in Reykjavík is much better remembered. It finished 0-0 and Germany’s coach Rudy Völler flew into a legendary rant on TV.
Finnbogason: I was in the stadium as a young boy back then, watching the game. I saw the interview later. For Germany, 0-0 wasn’t quite what they wanted. (laughs)
DFB.de: Iceland qualified for the 2016 Euros and the World Cup in 2018. What kind of form is the national team in right now?
Finnbogason: Expectations are really high because of our good performances over the last five or six years. In the last four tournaments, we have qualified twice and made the playoffs twice. In 2014 we lost to Croatia, in 2016 we qualified and finished ahead of the Netherlands in our group. We won our qualifying group for the 2018 World Cup and we were in the playoffs for the upcoming Euros too. That’s massive success for us because in the decade before we were never even close to qualifying for a major tournament. Our current form has dropped off a little in comparison with our qualification for the final eight at Euro 2016. But I think that we’re still doing well and aren’t far away from the big nations. We have had a new coaching staff since the start of the year. We are really excited to see what comes next.
DFB.de: Iceland will face Germany on March 25th in Duisburg. How strong do you think Joachim Löw’s team are?
Finnbogason: We obviously think Germany are the strongest side in our group. Unfortunately we don’t have as many good players available to us as Germany, so Germany are the clear favourites. But you also have to be honest and say that Germany has had some really tough, complicated years.
DFB.de: Where do you see Germany’s weaknesses?
Finnbogason: That’s hard to say because I don’t know who will be selected. There will be a lot of discussion about whether the older players should return or whether they should stick with the youth revolution. It’s hard to find weaknesses in a team that has so many players playing at such a high level with clubs like Bayern or Chelsea.
DFB.de: The other opponents in the group are Armenia, Liechtenstein, North Macedonia and Romania. Iceland could have the potential to progress...
Finnbogason: Yeah, that’s true. First place qualifies automatically and second goes into the playoffs. Our aim has to be to finish among the top two. We aren’t scared to set our sights high. That’s what we will keep doing.
DFB.de: You wrote yourself into the history books by scoring Iceland’s first ever World Cup goal in a 1-1 draw against Argentina. How popular are you in Iceland? Do people stop you to chat in the streets or do they leave you in peace?
Finnbogason: A bit of both. Only 350,000 people live in Iceland. We only have around 20 players in the national team squad and they are obviously all well-known. At the same time, though, we do have our peace. I value that respectful attitude.
DFB.de: How popular is football in Iceland?
Finnbogason: it is quite clearly the number one sport in Iceland. All children want to play football. Things have improved in the last 15 years. We have lots of artificial pitches where you can play all year round. That is good for our youngsters.
DFB.de: You’ve experienced lots of countries during your career. As a youngster you played in Scotland and then as a professional in Belgium, Sweden, Holland, Spain and Greece. The last five years you’ve been at Augsburg in Germany. That’s the longest amount of time you have spent at any single club.
Finnbogason: I’ve been lucky to see so many countries and different ways of playing. Now I have found a good home for myself in Augsburg. I am very satisfied. Everything here fits for me and my family. The league is good and the club is amazing.
DFB.de:What are some of the quirks you’ve noticed about Germany?
Finnbogason: Every country has pros and cons. In Spain, the weather, the climate and the food are all great. In Germany, it’s the way things are structured. You know exactly what you’ll get. That’s important. One thing I have noticed about Germany is that some people are very aggressive drivers.
DFB.de: Where did you enjoy living the most?
Finnbogason: Next to Augsburg, San Sebastian in Spain was the nicest. I didn’t know much about the city before I moved there. I think it’s a very beautiful city, and the people there were very kind. You don’t really go to the Basque country to vacation there, people rather go to the south. But, I really enjoyed living there, and the people there were really welcoming to me.
DFB.de: Are you planning on returning to Iceland once your playing days are over?
Finnbogason: I haven’t made a decision. I still want to play for a couple years. As for what will happen after that, it’s not completely certain yet. My parents still live in Iceland, so it would be a good option.