France VS Iceland Prediction
The UEFA Euro 2016 hosts France will face against the biggest surprise in the tournament so far when in Sunday evening Iceland returns at “Stade de France” in capital Paris. This will be the last game staged by largest Euro 2016 venue (prior the closing game) and next one is dream of each team – cherished UEFA Euro 2016 final on 10 July.
France and Iceland have already tasted of Stade de France’s fantastic atmosphere as “Les Bleus” opened their home campaign with the 2-1 win over Romania while Icelandic team has achieved its first ever victory at European Championship finals – 2:1 vs Austria. Thus both nations are holding some bright and delightful memories but French team is the one who keeps even more. Such as of the home triumph at the 1998 World Cup when France with Didier Deschamps as captain lifted the trophy in front of 80 000 spectators. Glorious moment for French football and expectations in the host nation are that France should accomplish the minimum plan, which includes final appearance, at least. However, everything different from winning the Henri Delaunay trophy will be huge disappointment for the French team and respectively for its supporters.
Iceland on verge of their abilities and living their Euro 2016 dream
Iceland comes as underdog and the Nordic country can be exclusively pleased from their quarter-final position. However, appetite comes with eating and we do believe that Iceland dreams even bigger after the marvelous comeback against England in the Round of 16. Squad led by Lars Lagerbäck & Heimir Hallgrímsson proved that their qualifying victories over Netherlands were not accidental and fact that Iceland are still unbeaten at Euro 2016 testifies for that claim. Everyone in Iceland and in the team dreams to end the week as they have opened it in Monday evening but playing against host nation can bring totally different tension in the squad and they must overcome it.
Good news are that Iceland has all players available and their absolute dedication looks as the biggest plus for the team. We don’t expect any rotations in Iceland’s squad here as tandem Lagerbäck/Hallgrimsson are not showing any intentions for rotations when everything goes smoothly.
This means that Icelandic players are not afraid and they already managed to upset Cristiano Ronaldo in their Euro 2016 opener vs Portugal, followed by the draw against Hungary when “The Magical Magyars” equalized late in the game. Nonetheless, only few days later Iceland scored late winner against Austria and this was a brilliant end of their group F participation where they finished as runner-ups, remaining behind Hungary due their goal difference. Well, this was a fine positioning for Iceland and as we can see they’re on the quarter-finals while Hungary were eliminated by the strong team of Belgium, so Iceland should not regret they have finished second in the group, not at all.
France simply cannot complain about their Euro 2016 draw so far
Everything else than a win after 90 minutes will be huge upset for “The Blues” and this may add some pressure among the squad. Didier Deschamps and his men certainly had some parsing with high tone during the half-time against Republic of Ireland, when France were behind after the successfully executed penalty by Robbie Brady early in the 1/8 final match. Anyway, second half was marked by some excellent efforts by Antoine Griezmann and Olivier Giroud, as first one scored both French goals, while Arsenal’s striker for the second goal and he had huge contribution for the one man advantage which France had. Indeed, Shane Duffy was sent-off only some minutes after Griezmann turned the score, but contrary to the expectations “The Boys in Green” didn’t fell in a psychological collapse. Of course, France missed some good chances and André-Pierre Gignac’s shot went on post, so the final score remained 2:1 in France’s favor. Exactly the same score which marked the Euro 2016 opening game at “Stade de France” when Dimitri Payet’s screamer scooped all the points for France.
Now France can be happy they’ve avoided duel against England but they should be even more concentrated against Iceland, although they possess really convincing record against the Nordic country. Despite their psychological (influenced by the historical facts) and home advantages, superiority when we speak for individualities, France should be even more focused since Didier Deschamps can’t must take few decisions regarding his starting formation in Sunday night. The UEFA Europa League winner Adil Rami and sensational defensive midfielder of English Leicester City – N’Golo Kanté, are both players who’ll miss the Euro 2016 quarter-finals due to suspension and this requires some changes. They can either be in the starters or in the formation as well, since Deschamps may prefer to start with a 4-2-3-1 formation, including Blaise Matudisi and Paul Pogba as central midfielders, while Antoine Griezmann can be placed behind the striker. Dimitri Payet and Kingsley Coman can attack through the wings as it happened against Ireland.
Of course, expectations are that French coach will stay loyal to its favorite 4-3-3 and Kante’s absence can be crucial for such a decision. His defensive contribution is quite impressive and we don’t believe that the 47-year-old former midfielder will be keen to open more spaces for Iceland. So most likely someone from Moussa Sissoko or Yohan Cabaye will have to cover Kante’s position, while situation in defense requires someone from Samuel Umtiti and Eliaquim Mangala to cover Rami’s position next to Laurent Koscielny.
Initially Mangala should be the chosen one but some other sources are tipping that Lyon’s defender Samuel Umtiti has been tipped for starting place in the quarter-final, as the 22-year-old centre-back is also linked with a potential move at “Camp Nou” after Euro 2016. Anyhow, this can be a memorable international debut for Samuel Umtiti who was called up on fire as a replacement of Barcelona’s defender Jérémy Mathieu. It seems that destiny has a finger and now he can even be Mathieu’s replacement not only in France, but in Spanish La Liga champions as well. Anyway, that’s completely different thread.
H2H history: France holds an outstanding record against Iceland
France and Iceland will meet on the major stage for the very first time but both teams have solid head-to-head history when it comes to European Qualifiers. Back in the years both nations were together in the qualifiers for various Euros (1976, 1988, 1992 and 2000), as well as in the qualifiers for the 1958 World Cup. After 11 previous encounters between France and Iceland (plus one friendly), French team can boast with 8 wins and only 3 draws so they have fine historical backup in their quarter-final eve.
Last meeting between France and Iceland was in a friendly match prior Euro 2012 when “Stade du Hainaut” in Valenciennes welcomed their check and it will be remembered with the full comeback and mentality showed from France. Iceland took a 2:0 lead after 34 minutes as both goals were scored by players who are in their Euro 2016 selection – left winger Birkir Bjarnason and striker of French Nantes Kolbeinn Sigthórsson. They have both opened their scoring accounts at French turf once again as Bjarnason scored in the draw against Portugal, while Sigthorsson netted the winning goal in Joe Hart’s net.
Nevertheless, three second half goals were crucial for the final score and three players who won’t take part in this one were the scorers. Mathieu Debuchy, Franck Ribery and Adil Rami were French goal scorers, whilst Olivier Giroud assisted twice, so this shows how helpful can his presence be here and his height will play crucial role in Iceland’s box.
This was second successive 3-2 win for France as the previous one was back in the UEFA Euro 2000 qualifiers when “Stade de France” staged the last competitive scuffle between both nations and back then Iceland were pretty close to make a comeback. France with Deschamps in the squad took a 2-0 lead after an own-goal by Rikhardur Dadason and goal by Youri Djorkaeff but Iceland responded in a brilliant way with the second half whistle. Eyjólfur Gjafar Sverrisson and Brynjar Björn Gunnarsson were both players who scored in Bernard Lama’s net, but David Trezeguet scored the winning goal thereafter. Later on Trezeguet scored the golden goal in the Euro 2000 final against Italy and this undoubtedly remains his most remarkable moment, as well as the last moment of major French triumph. Sixteen years after finals in Belgium and Netherlands, France aims to add another European Championship trophy and if they want it to happen, then any slips are unacceptable.
Euro 2016: France vs Iceland – Possible squads and betting tip
France have been considered for certain favorites and everything different from French victory will cause huge upset on the football betting markets. Iceland can only win from such a game and they should play it without any pressure, while all the pressure can fall over the new French generation. With all these defensive issues dating before the competition and both suspensions, France must show much different face compared to what we saw in bigger part of games against Romania, Albania, clueless group game vs Switzerland and first half of their 1/8 final tie against Republic of Ireland.
Final conclusion and betting prediction
Iceland dreams to spoil all scheduled French celebrations and counter-attacking skills are promising. Moreover, Iceland can profit from the set-pieces and ability to using every touch as a potential free-kick. Considering the lack of sync in current French defense and their overall instability, we find much better value in a bet for “Both teams to score” in the last Euro 2016 quarter-final evening.
We expect goals from France and Iceland at “Stade de France”. Good value for such an outcome.
Venue: “Stade de France”, Saint-Denis, Paris.
Possible starting lineups of France and ICeland
France: Hugo Lloris (c) – Bacary Sagna, Samuel Umtiti, Laurent Koscielny, Patrice Evra – Yohan Cabaye, Paul Pogba, Blaise Matuidi – Antoine Griezmann, Dimitri Payet, Olivier Giroud. (4-3-3)
Iceland: Hannes Halldórsson – Birkir Sævarsson, Kari Arnason, Ragnar Sigurdsson, Ari Skulason – Johann Gudmundsson, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Aron Gunnarsson (c), Birkir Bjarnasson – Kolbeinn Sigthorsson, Jon Dadi Bodvarsson. (4-4-2)