Hosts France take on Iceland in the fourth quarter-final of Euro 2016 in Paris on Sunday with a place in the semi-finals at stake.
France have had a wonderful campaign so far and the hosts are the favorites to lift the trophy, but Iceland have surpassed all expectations and the island nation have shown that they have the heart and passion to take on the big boys of Europe.
Hosts France are unbeaten against Iceland, with the two teams having locked horns 11 times, with France winning 8, while drawing 3 games.
The two teams last faced each-other on 27 May 2012 in Valenciennes in a friendly.
Iceland were cruising at half-time with a comfortable 2-0 lead, but France made an incredible comeback as the Les Bleus won the match 3-2 .
Also Iceland have played 6 games a against the Les Bleus in France and have lost all of them, scoring 5 goals while conceding a whooping 22 goals.
EURO 2016 RECAP
France have had a fairly easy ride uptil now at the Euros, as the hosts have had it easy (thanks to an easy drawing for the group stages) though they have not been as dominant as was expected, after a dismal performance against Ireland in the Round of 16, which France won 2-1.
If not for Antoine Griezmann’s masterclass, the hosts would have crashed out in what would have been as big of a shocker as Englands defeat to Iceland.
However it is Iceland who have been the surprise package of this edition of the Euros, as the tiny nation with a population of just over 330’000 has managed to achieve an incredible feat by reaching the Quarter-Finals.
Iceland shocked the world when they beat England 2-1 and sent the three lions flying back home, in what is being touted as the biggest upset in English football’s history.
WHAT MANAGERS SAY?
Heimir Hallgrimson, Iceland Coach
“After winning this, there is no obstacle too big. Now it’s the host nation next in Paris; a big, big game.
“Answering right back had more of an effect on England than their goal did on us. Their plan was to shut us off from the beginning and they probably thought they did. If we hadn’t of done that I don’t know how the game would have panned out. Psychologically it was very important.”
Didier Deschamps, France Coach
“We don’t do everything well – no team has done. That was the case yesterday for everyone. It’s a very even European Championship, and France, with all of our players, are not going to try to stop them and slow them down.
“This team is giving a lot of emotion to the crowd and making everybody fall in love with them.”
Iceland are yet to open their account against France as they have not won a single game in the two countries 11 previous meetings.
France have won 8 and drew three times, with their lst encounter being a friendly which France won 3-2.
The last two encounters between the two have ended 3-2 in favour of the Les Bleus.
France will also be looking to continue their unbeaten streak on home-soil as they have not lost in their last 16 major tournament games, having won 14 and drawing 2.
France have conceded just two goals till now, both from penalties, and have conceded the fewest shots on target with just 3 shots in 4 games.
Iceland on the other hand are playing their first major finals and boy oh boy, what a time they’re having as they haven’t lost a single game in the Euros yet.
Iceland too have had a good run of form which is supported by a 10 game unbeaten run, drawing 5 while winning 5.
N’Golo Kante is set to miss the all important Quarter-Final for France as the dynamic midfielder is suspended.
Probable France XI: lloris – Sagna, Mangala, Kolscielny, Evra – Matiudi, Sissoko, Pogba – Griezmann, Giroud, Payet.
Iceland will most likely play at full strength as they have no significant disciplinary concerns and, notwithstanding any late fitness worries, are unlikely to make major changes to the side that so comprehensively outclassed England.
Probable Iceland XI: Halldorsson, Saevarsson, R. Sigurdsson, Arnason, Skulason, Gudmundsson, G. Sigurdsson, Gunnarsson, Bjarnason, Sigthorsson, Bodvarsson.