Two years ago saw Iceland midfielder Birkir Bjarnason first come to Europe’s attention with some excellent performances in the European Championships. Now, he is doing the same thing on the world stage.
The 30-year-old midfielder put in an exceptional performance for his country this weekend as they drew 1-1 with Argentina. He delivered a brilliant man-marking exercise on Lionel Messi which kept the Barcelona hero quiet for much of the 90 minutes.
The Aston Villa star was the talk of Twitter with his crunching challenges and relentless pressure telling on the Argentina superstars. Pictures comparing him to Thor abounded.
What this performance also showed is how big a mistake Aston Villa boss Steve Bruce made in the Championship play-off final.
Bjarnason was left on the bench by Bruce for the biggest game of Villa’s season. Bjarnason is a big game player. He has played in the Champions League and Europa League with Basel and in numerous crunch fixtures with Iceland. Leaving a player of this magnitude on the bench v Fulham was a massive error and it was highlighted yesterday afternoon as he shackled the Albiceleste.
Bjarnason turned his Villa career around after nearly leaving in January and wants to stay next season, despite the play-off snub. However, with the World Cup a massive showcase more performances like this will see him hit the radar of other teams.
Given Aston Villa’s current financial situation a handsome offer for the midfielder would be accepted.
But if not, ‘Thor’ could play a huge role in keeping Aston Villa competitive next season.