Euro 2016 quarter-final: France need quick-fire start to avoid Iceland trap
Holly Thackeray | July 1, 2016
France v Iceland
- Euro 2016 quarter-final
- Sunday, July 3rd
- Kick-off: 20:00 BST
- Stade de France, St-Denis, Paris
- Live on ITV
Complacency could see France face Iceland chill
Euro 2016 hosts France hold a fantastic record against tournament heroes Iceland, as they pit their wits against the plucky underdogs in the last quarter-final on Sunday night.
Having beaten the Nordic nation on eight of 11 occasions, drawing the other three and losing none, Les Bleus are rated odds-on 4/9 favourites with Coral to keep their spotless record pristine in Paris by prevailing in 90 minutes.
Such stats and confidence in the French camp could set them up for a fall, however, should complacency creep in. Iceland are the team that have inspired a nation, and they have already exploited a big scalp in England, playing on the expectation that their opponents had of a last eight place.
Instead, the Nordic nation are now eyeing a historical semi-final spot and the spoiling of the tournament hosts’ hopes.
Punters can pile the pounds on outsiders Iceland at 13/2 to shockingly see off France in normal time on the night, or a more appealing 16/5 to force extra-time with a draw.
Les Bleus must be quick out of the blocks
So far France are unbeaten in this tournament on home turf, but many a pundit have been displeased by performances, as a relatively easy win against Albania was preceded by a hard fought three points versus Romania, then followed by a shut-out against Switzerland and an almost upset from the Republic of Ireland.
The good news for French fans is that they have had plenty of practice playing obstinate nations seeking to snatch a smash and grab result, and have seen the perils of England underestimating Iceland.
Didier Deschamps’ men have beaten Iceland 3-2 in their last two dust-ups against the Nordic outfit and are a long punt at 40/1 to win by the same scoreline again, or 3/1 to win and both teams score.
France full back and veteran Patrice Evra highlighted the importance of his slow starting side being quicker out of the blocks now, telling press: “We’re snatching wins late in the game every time.
“But the further you go in a tournament, the harder it gets. We need to be wary because if we carry on like this, at some point we won’t turn it round,” added the former Manchester United man.
“That could be against Iceland. We have to wake up earlier in games. We’re not starting matches well enough.”
It is true that all of France’s six competition goals so far have arrived in the second-half, with several last-gasp goals, so customers can opt for the time of the first French goal to occur between the 81st and 90th minute at 16/1.
Or, if you fancy the team to heed Evra’s advice, the match result after 30 minutes is 9/5 to be a French lead.
Griezmann main goal threat
With defender Adil Rami and engine room dynamo N’Golo Kante suspended for this scuffle, plus Arsenal pair Olivier Giroud and Laurent Koscielny one booking away from missing the semi-finals, France will want to avoid relying on their thinly-spread rearguard.
It is the attack that must keep Les Bleus on the front foot, with goal hunter Griezmann having sparked to life. Joint top Euro scorer on three, the Atletico Madrid man is 4/1 for the opening goal, or 5/1 to follow up his previous brace by dispatching a double or more again.
Hot on his heels with a two goal tally is playmaker Dimitri Payet, who could prove key at set-pieces if Our Boys prove stubborn in normal play. Punters can back the West Ham United hero at 11/2 for the final say, or 6/4 in the anytime market.
While, both prodigies Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial are yet to open their Euro accounts, but are 9/4 and 7/4 to do so respectively on Sunday evening.
Iceland boast presidential backing
Iceland have proven they are not just along for the ride, and have odds of 4/1 to qualify for the final four, which is quite extraordinary.
To boot, aside from their passionate support, the smallest nation to ever make the European Championship finals also have the backing of their newly elected president, Gudni Johannesson.
“I will be in the stands with the fans and I will wear my Iceland shirt,” the politician told press. “And with respect to the French team — it should not underestimate us.”
“Of course, for Iceland as a country, this means a lot. It shows that if you set yourself a goal, work towards it, stick together and have discipline then anything can happen.”
Iceland certainly embody those values at this competition and Aron Gunnarsson will be aiming to unsettle France’s depleted defence with his long throws.
Yet, one half of the Nordic nation’s dugout duo, Lars Lagerback said: “I don’t think it matters much that they have some players suspended. The quality in the squad is so good. It’s very difficult to find weaknesses in the French team.”
For the Nordic nation to complete a coup and oust France, Kolbeinn Sigthorsson, a scorer against France before and a goal hero against England, will have to have his shooting boots ready.
The forward is 4/1 to net anytime, while star man Gylfi Sigurdsson is a 5/1 shout and skipper Gunnarsson 16/1 in the same market.
Coral’s top tip: Back in-form Griezmann to score first at 4/1.