France v Albania - Group A: UEFA Euro 2016

On the FIFA Rankings, Iceland are placed twice down (34) the list compared to France (17). The latest victim to fall to an Icelandic volcanic reaction, England are number 11. But these rankings don’t matter on the pitch (ask Belgium). Yet, even a sentimental Iceland native won’t believe in their chances of upsetting France. Apart from the fact that they’re one of the best teams in the world, they are the hosts and will have their fans occupying almost 80% of the stadium seats to rally them to victory. The “Davids” just don’t have that much of chance against this Goliath and history won’t be repeating itself. Able to soak up pressure by sitting back and defending to the last breathe, the 2-coached Icelandic team pounces on any opportunity from a counter to a set-piece or long throw. They attack together and defend together. It has worked against Portugal, Austria and England. It is a strategy they will be banking upon when they lineup against Les Bleus. But it’s not likely to yield any result, nevertheless, they have won over many hearts and will still be winners when (not if) they eventually come to the end of the road. Leicester City’s fairy-tale season definitely serves as a constant inspiration and reminder to the Icelanders, and the King Palace outfit’s story is a pointer to the fact that anything is possible in football once a set of minnows combine teamwork and brilliance, so maybe we are in for a surprise again at the Euros. (No we aren’t)

They arrived the competition, their first ever major tournament as the team that conceded least goals and the side least likely to proceed to the next stage. Even after getting the draw against Three Lions, many of us were already anticipating a France – England quarterfinals. Now we are all anticipating a Germany – France semis, and it would surprise us if that wish doesn’t come true. France haven’t played up to a certain level required of title winners, and they face an uphill task against Germany on their way to the finals when (again, not if) they see off Leicester City or is it Iceland again. Deschamps could not get the best available selection for his backline and has seen some of his most-valuable players play below par thus far. Anything less than a semifinals spot will be failure for the 1998 World Cup winner, and that enough will get him inspired to make sure his side easily displace this threat of a team called Iceland. Nobody says it will be easy, but France are a different side from Portugal and England despite their slow rise to the occasion. This could be their moment to finally establish themselves as deserved favourites after some sloppy performances. A sound victory will fire them up for the Germany encounter, and neither of Portugal nor Wales pose much threat to their mission of landing a trophy after 16 years. And that starts with a win against Iceland. The little country has been excellent thus far, but David won’t be having the last laugh this time around. It’s time to go home Vikings!!!

Paul Koroma

I learned all about life with a ball at my feet. Soccer allows me to push the limitation of creativity and express myself without saying a word. Soccer is my addiction. I train. I play, and I repeat every single day.

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