The quarterfinal stage in Euro 2016 will end with the hosts playing against the Cinderella of the tournament: France vs Iceland at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis.
A Little bit of History
- France are two time champions of the competition, winning in 1984 and 2000. Since their victory in 2000, they haven’t been able to make it past the quarterfinals.
- For Iceland, this is their first major tournament ever
Road to the quarterfinals
- France, the hosts, finished first in their group, ahead of Switzerland, Albania and Romania. They won against Albania and Romania while drawing with the Swiss. In the round of 16, despite falling behind early against Ireland, they managed to turn things around and win 201
- Iceland were undefeated in a group consisting of Hungary, Portugal and Austria. They stunned Portugal with a 1-1 draw, conceded an 88th minute goal to draw against Hungary as well, and beat Austria in the 94th minute to qualify. In the round of 16, despite conceding early against England, they made a quick turnaround to win 2-1,
Down to business
Two things work against Iceland in this match: France haven’t lost a match on home soil in their last 16 competitive home matches, winning 14 and drawing 2. What’s worse, in 11 meetings with France, Iceland have never won, losing 8 (including their last encounter four years ago) and drawing three. Luckily for them, you can draw at the end of a match and still win in the Euro. Just ask Portugal.
France will be playing without the suspended Adil Rami, which means that new Barcelona player Samuel Umtiti is likely to start, although Eliaquim Mangala might get the nod in the end. In any case, Iceland’s main threat has been their ability to dominate physically through their strikers, Kolbeinn Sigthorsson and Jón Daði Böðvarsson. Whoever partners up with Laurent Koscielny is going to end up with a lot of bruises, but can’t let the two have their way, which makes things so much easier for Gylfi Sigurdsson and Aron Gunnarsson to help from behind.
As for the French attack, they need to find room (which Iceland give), as the partnership between Antoine Griezmann and Olivier Giroud has been their best bet for scoring goals. Paul Pogba has been disappointing and it seems everyone is keeping their eye on Dimitri Payet after a great start to the tournament. Like in their match against Albania, it’ll be France’s ability to dominate through their defensive midfield that gives them the best shot of carrying on their successful campaign.