Things we’ve learned so far at the Euros:
- England are just as bad at major tournaments as they always have been
- Wales might be more than a one man team
- Germany and Italy aren’t very good at penalties – at all
- Irish fans are TOP BANTER
Oh, and that Iceland have very little people left on the island not watching the football. 97.8% of the population tuned into the victory over England and that number is sure to rise even further as they take on France tonight in Saint Denis in the last quarter final. The sides have been at contrasting ends of the performance spectrum so far. France have failed to impress, Iceland have impressed by not failing.
But for the Titanic struggle (haha, get it cause ICEland and iceberg trololol) on Sunday evening, we’ve priced up a special double.
One of the two French stars so far at the Euros alongside Paul Pogba, Dimitri Payet can partially claim responsibility for getting France this far. After all, it was his goals against Romania and Albania which kick started the French charge to the quarters. After making a sub cameo against the Swiss and being stifled by the Irish, French media have been questioning about whether Payet can find his form again at the right time.
We know his stats. Two goals, one assist, 3.5 shots on target per game and a pass success rate of 79.8%. But when Ireland shut off the supply to Payet, he wasn’t able to wriggle away from the marking. Iceland are sure to have a very similar set up defensively.
The thing that might catch them out is the free kick. Iceland have made on average 14.3 fouls per game, and around about 6 of those have been in what we call ‘dangerous areas’ (ie inside 30 yards). Payet could bend a free kick into the top corner while behind the goal and juggling sticks of fire. Iceland cannot let him have a chance from a dead ball.
At the same time, France can’t afford to give away silly fouls either because Iceland have a wizard on frees too. And a disturbingly handsome one at that. While they’ve been quite nice at the tournament (only fouling on average 10 times per game which is the second lowest tally of the quarter finalists) they haven’t really come up against a team that will play like Iceland yet.
We saw in the win against England how every set piece Iceland win will be trouble. A cannon of a long throw, a whip from a corner or a dipping and diving Gylfi Sigurdsson free can all cause damage as Roy Hodgson found out to his cost.
The way Iceland have played is almost the opposite to how many expected them to at the start of the tournament. The hacks at Power Tower were sure Sigurdsson would’ve been their focal point of attack – but he hasn’t been. The Strákarnir okkar have a tournament low 71% pass completion and have fielded the same team in every game so far. They don’t know what tired is.
If France leave themselves as open as they did against Ireland, Iceland will strike. We’re going for Siggy to do it as part of our double.