The host nation France will face an Iceland team brimming with confidence following their historic win over England. The French beat a spirited Republic of Ireland team to get this far and will be unsure weather getting the Icelandic’s at this stage is a blessing or a curse.
Defender Adil Rami and all action midfielder N’Golo Kanté will miss this game through suspension after picking up yellow cards against Ireland. The loss of Rami will be felt as coach Dider Deschamps had already lost Mamadou Sakho for a drugs ban, as well as Raphaël Varane, Kurt Zouma and Jérémy Mathieu through injury before the tournament leaving him light at the back. The likely replacement will be new Barcelona signing Samuel Umtiti who is set to make his debut. Kanté will likely be replaced by Crystal Palace’s Yohan Cabaye.
Iceland coach Lars Lagerbaeck should again name the same team that has started every game so far at Euro 2016. The only issue ahead of the game is that nine members of the supposed starting XI are one booking away from a suspension from the semi-final, should they secure progress.
The French, who topped their group, met the Republic of Ireland in the first round knockout game in Lyon. It didn’t start well from Les Bleus, Paul Pogba bundled over Irish front man Shane Long in the box just 2 minutes into the game. Scorer of Ireland’s winner against Italy Robbie Brady dispatched the spot kick, sending the Irish fans wild. The French didn’t do much to trouble the Boys in Green in the first half but came out a different team in the second. Antoine Griezmann scored a fine header from a Bacary Sagna cross before a cool finish into the bottom corner after nod down from Oliver Giroud following a mix up from a tired looking Irish defence. The Atletico man almost had his hat trick but was brought down by a last gasp Shane Duffy challenge just outside the box earning the Blackburn man a straight red card. Irish goalkepper Darren Randolph kept the score at 2-1 with some late saves.
Iceland continued their fairy tale story with a 2-1 win of their own against England. The English also took an early lead through a penalty, captain and “midfielder” Wayne Rooney giving The Three Lions the lead in the forth minute. The Icelandic’s got straight back into the game from a trademark throw in. England switched off and Ragnar Sigurdsson poked home from a flick on. It went from bad to woeful for England when Joe Hart was again culpable, the keeper let Kolbeinn Sigthorsson’s side foot shot spill under his hand. New Man City manager Pep Guardiola will be wondering if the English no1 is the man he wants between the posts for the new season after another high profile mistake. Iceland defenced doggedly to the end and saw out the greatest victory in their footballing history.
This may be a bridge too far for Iceland, the hosts will have studied their tactics in the previous round and should avoid the same pitfalls that shocked England. They could still cause the French some trouble, however France and especially Griezmann should put them to the sword and win by at least a couple of goals.
France 3-1 Iceland