France v Iceland, Sun 3rd July
Marseilles, Live on ITV - 8pm
Having already created one of the biggest shocks the European Championships has ever seen when they came from behind to beat England 2-1 in Nice, Iceland are looking to upset the odds once again by knocking out the hosts France on Sunday night at the Stade Velodrome, Marseilles (ITV, 8pm).
Didier Deschamps’s first-choice squad still looks uncertain and his side are still yet to fire on all cylinders at Euro 2016, despite having played 4 games together. Against the Republic of Ireland, they were behind for an hour before Antoine Griezmann dug them out of a Robbie Brady-shaped hole, and in reality, each one of France’s matches to date has contained a period of genuine frustration for the hosts. Against Romania they struggled in the first half of the match, before requiring a late winner to finally kill off their opponents. Against Albania they huffed and puffed for 90-minutes before two late goals put a sheen on the result that was never really deserved and against Switzerland they laboured to a uninspiring 0-0 result, in a match for which they were second best for long periods.
Deschamps will be forced to shuffle his squad once again with Leicester City’s N’Golo Kante and centre-back Adil Rami suspended for this one. At the back, Deschamps will need to chose between the new Barca recruit Samuel Umtiti and the Manchester City walking-liability Eliaquim Mangala to partner Laurent Koscielny. In midfield the switch looks slightly more straightforward with Yohan Cabaye in line to replace Kante.
Iceland performance at Euro 2016 have already exceeded all expectations and regardless of the outcome in this one, the players know that they’ll be returning home as heroes. Against France they’ll be facing another side with all the pressure on their shoulders, and Iceland know they can approach the game with no fear. Given Arsenal’s record against the long ball tactics of Stoke City, Laurent Koscielny may be having a few sleepless nights ahead of facing Aron Gunnarsson’s infamous long throws. Iceland have already demonstrated that they are a potent threat from set-pieces and they’ll look approach this game in exactly the same way as their four games to date; soak up all the pressure and break in numbers as soon as the opportunity presents itself.
Iceland don’t have any suspensions for the tie, but they do have nine players who are one booking away from missing the semi final. Iceland will of course be treating this AS the final, so they’re massively unlikely to move away from he same XI players who have started all four of their games to date. More of the same please!
Despite having already won Euro 2016 Iceland won’t be relaxing ahead of this game. Much like England before them, France come into this match against Iceland with all the pressure on their shoulders and the longer the game goes on level the more Iceland will believe they can snatch another unlikely result. In France however, they are up against a team who have already demonstrated on three occasions that they are capable of bouncing back from almost any situation. I fancy both teams to score in this one, and perhaps France even to come from behind once again. 11 of the last 12 goals France have scored in the European Championships have come after half time, so it could be another late late show which finally sends Iceland packing.
- Second half to have most goals @
- France to win and both teams to score @
- France to come from behind and win @
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