Euro 2016 hosts France will take on the tournament underdogs Iceland in the last Quarter-Final tonight for the last place in the last four of the competition.
France are currently unbeaten in their 11 previous encounters with Iceland, winning an impressive eight as well as drawing three. Iceland have lost all six of their matches away to France, managing to score five in total whilst conceding 22. This is the third consecutive tournament where France have reached the quarter-finals. France have allowed their opponents at Euro 2016 to have three shots against them, fewer than any other side. Two of those shots were both converted penalties by Romania and Republic Of Ireland. Iceland are one of two teams, along with semi-finalists Wales, who have scored in all of their games so far at Euro 2016. However, all four of their matches in France have seen both sides score, meaning that nobody’s kept a clean sheet against them but Iceland are yet to keep a clean sheet either.
Uncapped Samuel Umtiti is the most likely replacement to replace the suspended Adil Rami at centre-back. Meanwhile the tireless and hard-working, N’Golo Kante, will also miss the game after picking up two yellow cards earlier on in the tournament. Crystal Palace midfielder Yohan Cabaye is the most likely replacement to come in.
Nine of Iceland’s predicted starting line up begin on a booking, so any caution for anyone of those nine players will result in that player potentially missing out on a semi-final should they make it. However, for France, main striker Olivier Giroud and favoured centre-back Laurent Koscielny are also on one booking each.
Predicted France XI:Lloris; Evra, Koscielny, Umtiti, Sagna; Pogba, Cabaye, Matuidi; Payet, Giroud, Griezmann.
Predicted Iceland XI:Halldorsson; Skulason, Sigurdsson, Arnason, Saevarsson; Gunarsson, Sigurdsson, Bjarnason; Berg Gudmundson, Sigthorsson, Bodvarsson.
With N’Golo Kante suspended for this crucial clash in the Stade De France, Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba will now need to take over the defensive responsibilities from his international team-mate and then launch players such as Payet and Griezmann on the attack for France to give them any chance of reaching the semi-finals.
Being the only real stand-out name in an arguably average Iceland team that have by far exceeded all expectations at this tournament, Gylfi Sigurdsson will need to be the man containing and stopping Paul Pogba running from deep in midfield. Sigurdsson has proven that he can stop world class players in the Premier League. But can he stop one of the best central midfielders on the international stage?
I feel that Iceland will put ten men behind the ball for this game against France, but I feel that France will find a way to get past Iceland’s resolute defence. I feel that Giroud will score once and that Griezmann will score twice for the hosts. However, I feel that Iceland’s target man up front, Sigthorsson, will pull a goal back for his national side at the death to leave the final score at 3-1 to France.