France v Iceland
Monday July 4, 5:00am
Iceland reached Euro 2016 despite being drawn in a qualifying group that included the Netherlands, Turkey and the Czech Republic they then advanced to the knockout phase by finishing second in Group F before beating England 2-1 in the Last 16 yet they are still unfancied here.
With eight teams left standing in the competition, Iceland are the firm outsiders. Despite requiring just three positive results to lift the trophy they are still available at 40/1 for glory. The main reason they are so long is that their route couldn’t be more perilous.
Next up they have the hosts and tournament favourites and should they qualify they will play the winner of Germany and Italy. France had to come from behind to beat Ireland but two quick-fire Antoine Griezmann goals and a Shane Duffy red card meant their progression looked assured for the final half hour.
Since 1990, home teams have played nine Euro and World Cup quarter-finals and though none has lost in 90 minutes six have been tied. Interestingly, all six draws went to penalties with the host nation advancing on five occasions including France’s 4-3 shootout success against the Italians in the 1998 World Cup.
France have reached the last eight in seven of the last 10 Major Finals. Their record in that sample is W2-D2-L3 and their three defeats in 90 minutes came against the eventual tournament winners: Greece ‘04, Spain ’12 and Germany ‘14.
Since 2000, France have played nine Finals matches against teams ranked 26-50 and they’ve won five in normal time including their matches against Romania and Ireland here.
Didier Deschamps’ side were involved in a goalless draw with Switzerland in their final group stage match but that was just the second time in their last 13 matches that they’ve failed to score at least twice.
Iceland’s 2-1 win over England was their ninth successive International where both teams have found the net. They’ve been underdogs in three of their four matches so far but remain unbeaten.
The islanders have faced top-10 opposition nine times since 2008 and their record reads: W2-D2-L5. This is the first time that Iceland have appeared at a Major tournament. Their previous best was losing to Croatia in the playoff for Brazil 2014 so there’s little past history to go on for Lars Lagerback’s side.
Iceland’s last five results against France read: W0-D1-L4 but both sides have scored in all five matches.
We can’t see any reason why Iceland will change their pressing style of play here and France have been far from assured at the back so far this tournament so both teams to score at a juicy price is our strongest bet here. If anything France look a little short – in knockout Finals matches since 2000 teams that are ranked 25-40 places higher than their opponents have gone W17-D13-L4 in 90 minutes – but given they have home advantage we wouldn’t be too keen to get involved in the match odds market.
BACK – Both Teams to Score 2.50