France Finally Get It Right & More Lessons Learned From France 5-2 Iceland


Griezmann Playing Through The Middle Is The Only Way For France

Antoine Griezmann has been sensational for Atletico Madrid, he scored 32 goals in all competitions last term and he did so playing down the middle. So, it seemed a little strange that he has been stuck out on the wing for the majority of this tournament.

The Spanish-based striker took some flack from the national press in France after the opening game against Romania but he still ploughed away on the flank, despite clearly wanting to come inside and effect the game.

He scored a great header late against Albania but it was against Ireland where he really came into his own. France needed something, they had produced a dire first half and it all clicked when the Atletico man was paired with Giroud it altered the game, he scored two and won them the game.

Here, he played just in behind the Arsenal man, going beyond him when necessary and basically running the game in an attacking sense. Play him centrally and he is far and away the French’s best player and totally changes them as an offensive proposition. Deschamps has to play with this 4-2-3-1 formation against Germany, the movement between the front four was sublime and impossible for the Icelandic team to deal with. However, they will need Kante and that means dropping Matuidi or Pogba, over to you Didier.

 

England’s Lack Of Class Left Iceland Over Confident

Iceland came into this game with their confidence high. After all they had just dumped Engladn out of the competition with consummate ease. Maybe the shocking showing of the Three Lions worked against the underdogs.

They seemed so confident here that they almost got a little over expansive with their style early on. It is a myth that they sat in and soaked up pressure against England, they operated a fairly high line and didn’t employ much of a press high up the pitch, something England failed to capitalise on. France instantly looked to go over the top whenever they could and that resulted in Olivier Giroud’s opener.

People will say that Iceland had to stick to their principles, it is the way they pay but surely they should have been a bit more reserved here and seen off the first 20 minutes against the hosts. England’s flaws almost gave them too much belief and they were instantly put back in their box by a ruthless Les Bleus outfit. They never recovered and were blown away, yet they stiill had the spirit to rally and find two goals from somewhere.

 

 

Samuel Umtiti Shows Why Adil Rami Was A Weak Link

Not many players can have had the week that young Samuel Umtiti has had. First it was announced he was set to sign for Spanish giants Barcelona and then he was handed his first ever international cap in a European Championship quarter-final.

He came in for the suspended, and susceptible, Adil Rami and it was obvious that he would be targeted by the shrewd Icelanders. He passed the early tests comfortably and then settled into the game and showed his vast ability on the ball.  However, unlike many defenders you will see in a Barca shirt, he actually looks a very good stopper.

After 23 minutes he did superbly well to track the runner from a throw and prevent Iceland pulling one back with a carbon copy of their goal against England. He grew in confidence after the first 10 minutes and looked a class act, marshalling the physical forward line well. Rami has looked nervous on the ball and extremely vulnerable under pressure, Umtiti should keep his place against what will be a pacey Germany line-up.

 

Iceland Will Hold Their Heads High Their Legacy Should Live On

This has been a quite ridiculous campaign for everyone’s new favourite team. Not team, not even Wales, have left as big an impression this this tournament as Iceland.

The supporters, the players and the management have all performed absolute miracles this summer and it should not be undersold because they suffered a spanking at the hands of the home nation, who they caught on a particularly hot night.

Fatigue played a huge part here. The same XI for five matches in a row clearly did not work out for them, paring that with the liquid movement of France’s new look attacking shape put paid to their hopes of a semi-final place.

Nevertheless, England would have killed for a chance to get played off the park by one of the best teams in the tournament in the last-eight. The legacy this group will leave is immense, they will have inspired a nation and that can only bode well for the future of football in Iceland. With a wonderful setup and a nation of people now hooked on football, you can’t help but think they will be around major tournaments for a while.

 

Olivier Giroud Can Be A Wonderful Player When Used Correctly

The Arsenal striker is the first choice striker for the tournament favourites, yet his ability is still constantly questioned. It is madness really.

The madness does have some reasoning though. The striker’s club being the main one. Giroud’s move to Arsenal was one that was built on the idea of adding more physicality but keeping the technical level high. Giroud does that but it is not really what he is suited to.

Yes, he had a spell at the end of last season where it seemed he would never score again but that stems from a lack of quick and direct service. He is not suited to a team that wants to constantly pass and wait for the perfect opening. He wants quick, direct ball, much like what he got tonight and like he gets in the blue shirt of his national team.

He has 10 goals in his last nine games for France, which is no coincidence. Many Arsenal fans would be happy to see Giroud depart, maybe it would be best for him if he did.