Iceland are on a dream run in the ongoing Euro 2016, and they can create history by reaching the semifinals of Euro 2016. But they have a huge hurdle in the form of France, who will be keen to end Iceland's fairytale run in the competition at Stade de France on Sunday. On paper, France are favourites, with Iceland as huge underdog.
But if France players watched Iceland's last game against England, they must be aware of the threat that Iceland can bring to the table. Iceland put up a heroic performance to knock England out of the competition. Though Iceland, unlike France, lack top players, they will try to make up for it with their positive and determined approach to win.
Even before the tournament started, France were one of the serious contenders, but they have not played the quality of football, which the hosts can produce. France have not thrashed goals to scare other teams. There is a serious need for France to take their game to the next level, if they are to win the title.
If they manage to defeat Iceland, Germany awaits them in the semifinals. The Germans have already sent warning signs, throwing Spain and Italy out of Euro 2016, and France will be trying to put an impressive show against Iceland and meet Thomas Muller and co with a quality win under their belt.
But, France cannot afford to think too ahead with Iceland playing some god football. Iceland are dangerous in set-pieces, and France coach, Didier Deschamps has made some plans to deal with those situations. The coach is also aware of the quality football, which Iceland has played, helping them reach the last eight. If the hosts lose concentration, Iceland will snap the opportunity.
"The players know Iceland aren't here by chance. If they're here it's because they deserve to be and have quality. Long throws from 35 or 40 metres out are like free-kicks for them and we've come up with ways to deal with it. Don't reduce them to long throws, though. In open play, they're capable of playing it on the deck. Iceland deserved to beat England, and they did it through the quality of their play," UEFA's official website quoted Deschamps as saying.
France are sure to dominate possession, but they need their attacking players like Antoine Griezmann and Olivier Giroud to be clinical in front of goal. France will also want Paul Pogba to play his A class game against Iceland, and use his power against Iceland's strong defence. However, France will have to do without their two key players. Adil Rami and N'Golo Kante have been suspended. Umititi and Yohan Cabaye are expected to replace the duo.
With Rami out, France defenders need to be more solid, especially against Aron Gunnarsson's long throws, which has helped Iceland score goals. Add to it the brilliant delivery from Gylfi Sigurdsson, Iceland have goals in them. Iceland will play a counter-attacking game, as they are not expected to enjoy much possession. But when they have the ball, they can catch France unaware and use pace to score goals.
Even if Iceland fail to defeat France, they will be one of the success stories of Euro 2016, but they will want to add another beautiful chapter in football history, by defeating the hosts. Coach Lars Lagerback wants his players to face France with a positive attitude, which has helped them achieve greater things in the competition.
"I always say to players and media that in football you always have a realistic chance. I would say that France are a little bit of a favourite, but I won't call them a big favourite. Most important for us is that we go out tomorrow and believe we can beat them. If we have that attitude, I think we can cause them some problem," Lagerback said.
Iceland have been backed brilliantly by their fans, who might be outnumbered in Saint Denis. But, one can be rest assured that these Iceland fans will be loud enough to cheer their team, as they have done so in Euro 2016, to provide further encouragement.
Where to watch live
France vs Iceland -- Euro 2016 quarterfinal -- is set to begin at 9 p.m. CET (12.30 a.m. IST, 8 p.m. BST, 3 p.m. ET). The TV and live streaming is below.
Germany: TV: SRF, ARD and ORF1.
Italy: TV: Sky Sport 1 Italia. Live Streaming: Sky Go Italia.
France: TV: TF1 and Bein Sports 1. Live Streaming: Bein Sports Connect.
Australia: TV: Bein Sports Australia 1. Live Streaming: Bein Sports Australia Connect.
Middle East and North Africa: TV: Bein Max 1, 2 and 3. Live Streaming: Bein SportsConnect.
Singapore: TV: Eleven Singapore, ABS-CBN and Singtel. Live Streaming: Singtel Go.
Malaysia: TV: Astro SuperSport. Live Streaming: Astro Go.
China and Hong Kong: TV: CCTV and LeTV.
Thailand: TV: Channel 3 and CTH.
USA: TV: ESPN 2 and ESPN 3. Live Streaming: Watch ESPN.
Canada: TV: TSN1, TSN5 and RDS. Live Streaming: TSN TV.
Latin America: TV: DirecTV.
South Africa and Sub Saharan Africa: TV: SuperSport 3. Live Streaming: SuperSport.