Host nation France take on the ultimate underdogs Iceland in Saint-Denis today in the final quarter-final of EURO 2016. Both sides have had highs and lows on the way to this point and no matter what way the match ends tomorrow one set of supporters will be bitterly disappointed.
Path to the quarters:
France have left it late on a few occasions to secure their place in the quarter-finals of EURO 2016. They were saved by a late Dimitri Payet strike against Romania before Antonie Griezmann and Payet scored after the 80th minute to defeat Albania. They drew the final group game against Switzerland before facing Ireland in the last 16. Paul Pogba conceded a penalty in the opening minute of the game allowing Robbie Brady to put Ireland ahead. Griezmann was the hero in the second half as he scored twice in quick succession to seal France’s place in the last eight. The French defence has raised concerns in the four games to date as have some of the performances of the midfielders. Strike duo Olivier Giroud and Griezmann can run hot and cold but the latter is the real danger going forward. Should stars like Payet and Paul Pogba turn up tomorrow Iceland could be in for a long night.
Iceland have been a surprise package in this years competition defying the odds to make it into the last eight in their first appearance at the championship. They came from behind to stun Portugal in a thrilling 1-1 draw before a late own goal saw them draw with Hungary after taking the lead. They got their first win in the final group game when an injury time winner from Arnor Traustason secured a 2-1 victory. They then faced England in the last 16. A Wayne Rooney penalty put England ahead but a spirited comeback with goals from Ragnar Sigurdsson and Kolbeinn Sigthorsson gave Iceland a historic win. Goalkeeper Hannes Tór Halldórsson has been key to their success as have captain Aron Gunnarsson and midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson. Ever Icelandic player has put his body on the line so far in the tournament and this trend is unlikely to end. They beat Austria in the Stade de France so maybe it is a lucky ground for them. They are up against it both on the pitch and in the stands as the home supporters will be vocal from the first kick to the last. This is a special game for Iceland who have already exceeded many expectations. They can play with pride tomorrow and who knows what might happen.
The winner of this game will face Germany in the semi-final next Thursday.