"I'll have to wait and see whether, after I sit down on the couch, I can get back up again," Alfred Finnbogason had joked after his goalscoring comeback on Matchday 31.

After missing Augsburg's ten previous league games with a calf injury, the explanation for his sunshine mood was simple. The Iceland international did not just make a difference, but in fact made all the difference as Augsburg defeated Mainz, ending a four-game winless run and — most significantly — secured Bundesliga football for another season. Stiff limbs or not, Finnbogason surely deserves a lengthy spell lounging out in his living room.

Watch: Finnbogason delights in clinching top-flight survival on comeback

The 29-year-old certainly seems to feel at home in Augsburg where he has developed into the central piece in Manuel Baum's set-up. In eighth place, three points off sixth and just six off second when their premier marksman was sidelined after Matchday 20, Baum's men picked up only nine points in the ten games he missed, failing to score in five of them.

Refined nose

Statistics don't always tell the whole story, but those numbers certainly suggest another: what might have been had Finnbogason not been sidelined?

The ambitions of a serious tilt at a top-six finish and a UEFA Europa League place next season were bound up in the striker's feet with Finnbogason refinding the refined nose for goal he had shown as a youngster alongside the likes of Werder Bremen's USA international Aron Johannsson, Everton's Gylfi Sigurdsson and Burnley's Johann Berg Gudmundsson at the renowned Breidablik club.

Werder Bremen's USA international Aron Johannsson was a team-mate of Finnbogason's growing up in Iceland. © imago

Curiously, goals only came in fits and starts as Finnbogason made his way through Lokeren in Belgium, Real Sociedad in Spain and Olympiacos in Greece without making an impression other than of being a player whose billing was bigger than his ability. Elves are considered bringers of luck in Iceland; unfortunately for Finnbogason, he definitely had gremlins in his goalscoring machine.

Painful absence

But fans of Helsingborg in Sweden, whom he joined on loan in 2012, and Dutch side Heerenveen — for whom he finished the Eredivisie's top scorer with 29 in 2013/14 — knew then what Baum and Augsburg know now: he can be prolific.

"It's painful not to have him on the pitch for a long time," Baum had explained when it had been announced in late January that Finnbogason's training sessions would be spent on the treatment table rather than the pitch.

Finnbogason's presence has an inspirational effect on Michael Gregoritsch. © imago

Other than his goals — as the team's stats showed — his presence in the Augsburg line-up has a wider impact, notably on Michael Gregoritsch. The gifted Austria international will surely, in time, be able to shoulder the team's goalscoring burden on his own, but the 24-year-old is far more effective with Finnbogason alongside him for now.

Gregoritsch: 'He knows my runs'

The duo are responsible for 24 — 12 each — of Augsburg's 40 league goals this season. In ten Bundesliga outings on the pitch without Finnbogason, Gregoritsch added only three to his tally. The Iceland international returns, and — hey presto! — they both score.

Coincidence? Gregoritsch doesn't think so. "Finnbogason is important for the team in general," he explained after being invited to find the net by his strike partner's delicate, telepathic chip into his path. "Also, he knows my runs and I know his."

With top-flight survival assured and his partnership with Gregoritsch leaving Augsburg fans drooling at the prospect of better to come in 2018/19, Finnbogason's attentions can now be turned to regaining full fitness.

World Cup goal

He will be able to hone his shape and finishing skills in Augsburg's remaining four Bundesliga matches with the aim of reaching peak condition in time to play a central role in Iceland's first-ever FIFA World Cup campaign.

"You go to the World Cup with quite a different feeling if you have been able to play a few games," he explained after helping see off Mainz. "As an Icelandic player, you have maybe one chance to play at a World Cup, it's our first chance. I want to come into the tournament in the best possible shape and be a big part of the team."

Opponents will be dreading seeing Finnbogason and his Iceland team-mates enjoying their trademark 'thunder clap' in Russia this summer. © gettyimages / HARALDUR GUDJONSSON

After stunning England at UEFA EURO 2016 where the tiny northern European nation became the tournament darlings en route to the quarter-finals, Finnbogason and his tightly knit team-mates will be everyone's favourite second team in Russia, and battle-ready opponents no-one will be looking forward to facing.

Stiff challenge

"It's great because I have six or seven of my best friends in the squad. We're like a big family, you can see that because we fight for each other," said the Augsburg striker. "If we're playing England, Brazil or Croatia, we're going out to win. Some people think we might be mad to think like that, but it's in our DNA."

They will need every drop of their natural-born fighting spirit in a 'Group of Death' with Argentina, Croatia and Nigeria. It is a stiff challenge, but unlike Finnbogason — uncertain about struggling to his feet after a first 90 minutes in almost three months — it is one Iceland will undoubtedly stand up to.

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