Saturday, January 21, 2017

Prediction: France vs Iceland

Verdict: Both teams to score – yes

Odds: 6/4

Bookmaker: William Hill

Euro 2016 hosts lock horns with one of the biggest surprises at this year’s European Championship finals Iceland, who are keen to extend the dream beyond the quarter-finals in their first-ever major tournament. Iceland has displayed fantastic and border-line fanatic team spirit France will have problems breaking and hosts need to wary of the challenge that lies on their path to the trophy.

France

Four games into the tournament and Didier Deschamps’ men are yet to find their best form. Euro 2016 hosts have apparently succumbed to pressure and high expectations finding it difficult to cope with the load from time to time. France spent the best part of an hour against Ireland fearing for their Euro 2016 quarter-final berth before Atletico Madrid striker Antoine Griezmann stepped up to the plate to save his team. Griezmann’s quick-fire second half brace was enough to deny Robbie Brady’s early penalty and to earn a much-needed morale boost for the host nation. Atletico Madrid frontman has enjoyed a fantastic tournament at home soil leading the way in the Golden Boot ranking together with Gareth Bale. Both players have scored three goals each so far and are expected to use the momentum to spark their respective teams to victory. Griezmann will be expecting to move into a central attacking position following his latest heroics as Didier Deschamps could opt to drop misfiring Olivier Giroud. France has progressed to the quarter-finals with three wins and a goalless draw against Switzerland, and manager Didier Deschamps is aware that his team still requires to show improvement in order to achieve its ultimate goal.

Team News

Leicester City enforcer N’Golo Kante and Sevilla defender Adil Rami will both be unavailable having picked up their second bookings of the tournament.

Olivier Giroud and Laurent Koscielny will be fearing for their place in the starting line-up as Deschamps ponders a change in tactics, while Kingsley Coman is an early injury doubt.

Iceland

Icelandic fairy tale continues at the Euro 2016 with Heimir Hallgrimsson and Lars Lagerback’s men living their dream in France. Unbeaten in four games so far, Iceland have displayed commendable fighting spirit, team discipline and tactical unity to pull off a major surprise at the tournament and eliminate England with a come from behind 2-1 triumph. It was arguably one of the greatest results in European Championship history with Euro debutants showing incredible determination and grit to eliminate Three Lions and outplay them, outwit them and outsmart them in the process. Nothing is impossible for the Nordic country which is enjoying a fantastic support from the stands in France. This small country has come together in excellent support for their team, ensuring the incredible family feel around the team. Nothing is impossible for Iceland who drew twice and won as many time to build their self-confidence and go from strength to strength in the tournament.

Team News

Iceland have no significant selection concern ahead of the quarter-final match with the 2016 European Championship finals’ hosts.

Hallgrimsson and Lagerback are likely to stick with the same team that eliminated England in the Last 16. Halldorsson will keep his place in goal despite making a penalty on Wayne Rooney as Iceland goalkeeper has made more saves than any other goalkeeper at the tournament.

Key Factors to Consider

  • Antoine Griezmann is leading the scoring charts with 3 goals to his name
  • Iceland goalkeeper Halldorsson has made 23 saves in France
  • Both rivals are unbeaten in their four matches at Euro 2016
  • France conceded only 2 goals in their last five matches
  • Iceland conceded in 4 of their last five games

Conclusion

Euro 2016 hosts will have to be careful not to underestimate Iceland, who have shown they are capable of beating anyone in this tournament. Nordic team is motivated to extend their Euro dream and reach the semi-finals in their first-ever appearance at a major competition. On the other side, France will need to pick up the pace following a concerning display against Irish and Didier Deschamps will urge his men to be fully focused for a tricky challenge ahead.

Verdict: Both teams to score – yes

Odds: 6/4

Bookmaker: William Hill

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