World champions France welcome Iceland to Guingamp for an international friendly, before they return to UEFA Nations League the following week.
Stade Municipal de Roudourou, Dinan, France
Key Stat: France have never lost to Iceland, winning nine and drawing three of the 12 previous meetings
Expert Verdict: France built on their World Cup win with a draw against Germany and win against the Netherlands, and their home friendly with Iceland is a chance to continue their impressive record in this fixture. They have never lost to Iceland and, with Iceland in very poor form, France will expect to win.
Hugo Lloris and Steve Mandanda are fit again, and will be competing to start in goal – the latter could get the nod ahead of the French captain, given it is a friendly. Nabil Fekir has withdrawn from the initial squad through injury, with Dmitri Payet called up in his place – meaning no recall for in-form Alexandre Lacazette. Samuel Umtiti is out injured, while Benjamin Mendy – who only returned to action with Manchester City at the weekend – has not been included. They are replaced, surprisingly, a little surprisingly, by Kurt Zouma, Mamadou Sakho and Lucas Digne – Manchester City’s Aymeric Laporte among the players therefore overlooked by Didier Deschamps. Corentin Tolisso’s absence means Tanguy Ndombele could make his debut, meanwhile.
Kylian Mbappe – Four goals at the World Cup, another in the win against the Dutch last time out, and ten goals in seven appearances for PSG this season.
Antoine Griezmann – World Cup bronze ball winner (and man of the match in the final) and the leading light in France’s star-studded front line.
Olivier Giroud – Issued a reminder of his ability with his 32nd international goal proving to be the winner against the Netherlands last time out.
France’s last defeat was in a friendly against Colombia in March – they have not lost in 13 matches since. Since the 4-2 win against Croatia in the World Cup final, when Antoine Griezmann, Paul Pogba and Kylian Mbappe added to an own goal to give France their second World Cup win, they have drawn 0-0 with Germany and beaten the Netherlands. Mbappe scored the opener at home to the Dutch, and Olivier Giroud grabbed the winner after Ryan Babel’s equaliser.
Defenders:Benjamin Pavard, Raphael Varane, Kurt Zouma, Presnel Kimpembe
Midfielders:Paul Pogba, N Golo Kante
Attacking Midfielders:Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann, Blaise Matuidi
Captain Aron Gunnarsson remains sidelined, while Frederik Schram, Theodor Elmar Bjarnason, Gudi Thorarinsson, Jon Dadi Bodvarsson and Bjorn Bergmann Sigurdarson are all absent from Iceland’s most recent squad. Jon Dagur Thorsteinsson could make his debut up front, but he is the only uncapped player selected. Johan Berg Gudmundsson returns, after missing the games against Switzerland and Belgium through injury, as does striker Alfred Finnbogason
Gylfi Sigurdsson – The Everton man has made a good start to the Premier League season, culminating in his superb winner against Leicester last weekend.
Alfred Finnbogason – Back from injury, Iceland’s first ever World Cup goalscorer has netted four times in his two appearances for Augsburg since his return.
Johan Berg Gudmundsson – Fit again and in good form with one goal and four assists in his seven Premier League appearances this season.
Iceland are without a win in their last 11 full international matches and, since drawing with Argentina in their opening World Cup game – Alfred Finnbogason scoring their goal – they have lost four in a row. In those four defeats, Gylfi Sigurdsson’s penalty in a 2-1 loss to Croatia at the World Cup is the only goal they have scored and their opening two UEFA Nations League matches ended in a 6-0 thrashing in Switzerland and 3-0 home defeat to Belgium.
Goalkeeper:Hannes Thor Halldorsson
Defenders:Birkir Mar Saevarsson, Sverrir Ingi Ingason, Ragnar Sigurdsson, Hordor Magnusson
Defensive Midfielders:Johan Berg Gudmundsson, Birkir Bjarnason, Emil Hallfredsson, Ari Skulason
Attacking Midfielders:Gylfi Sigurdsson
France have won nine of their 12 previous matches against Iceland, with three draws – Iceland are still looking for their first win in this fixture. Of those matches, however, only two have been since the turn of the century; France won 3-2 in a friendly in May 2012 – coming back from 2-0 down – before their match in Paris at Euro 2016. In the latter, France were 4-0 up at half-time thanks to Olivier Giroud, Paul Pogba, Dimitri Payet and Antoine Griezmann. Though Kolbeinn Sighthorsson and Birkir Bjarnason – coincidentally, also the two Iceland goalscorers in the aforementioned friendly – netted after the break, another Giroud goal in between ensured the tournament hosts won 5-2.
Iceland’s dismal run of form has been more like their old results, losing heavily to Switzerland and Belgium and generally finding themselves out of their depth at the highest level of the UEFA Nations League.
It highlights just how remarkable their run to the Euro 2016 quarter-finals and qualification for the 2018 World Cup was for such a tiny nation, but that will be little consolation at the moment.
On a run of 11 full international games without a win (though they did beat Indonesia in between in an unofficial friendly), they are unlikely to finds any more luck against the world champions.
France have never lost to Iceland and with another strong squad – albeit with a few surprise call-ups – it is unlikely they will lose this time either.
Iceland simply could not cope with either Switzerland or Belgium, and France’s attacking threat is even better – a phenomenal attacking line-up whoever they select from the current squad.
That in-form Alexandre Lacazette can not even get a call-up at the moment is testament to that.
The return of Johan Berg Gudmundsson and Alfred Finnbogason does improve Iceland’s own attacking threat, but against France they may not have too many opportunities to exploit that.
Iceland lack goals and have been porous at the back – again, just as they used to be before their current golden generation of players flourished on the big stage.
It does not bode well for a trip to the world champions, who can exert their dominance with a big win.
You will find no better price than just 1/5 on a France win against Iceland – as offered by Bet365. They are big, big favourites and the odds reflect that.
Even backing the world champions to win to nil against a team lacking in goals returns just a best price of 4/5 – again with Bet365.
Belgium put three past Iceland last time out, while Switzerland hammered in six. For France, with their fierce attacking line-up and phenomenal strength in depth, it could be a chance to fill their boots too.
Even if Didier Deschamps opts for a second-string attack, given it is a friendly, that will still include the likes of Thomas Lemar, Dmitri Payet and Florin Thauvin – not quite the world-class status of Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann but still with plenty of goals and creativity in them.
Over 2.5 goals returns 8/15 with Bet365, while over 3.5 goals has a best price of 11/8 with Betfair. The latter could be a risk if France hold their big guns back to face Germany, however.
A France win and over 2.5 goals is 13/20 with Betway.
Onto the goalscorers, and if Antoine Griezmann (7/10 with 888sport) and Kylian Mbappe (10/11 with 10Bet) do play, they will be expected to be in the goals. Given the likelihood of rotation, however, it could be worth looking at Florin Thauvin (7/4 with Bet365) to score at any time.
France are big favourites for good reason. Iceland are in miserable form, while the world champions boast phenomenal strength in depth in attack – whichever combination of forwards they opt for.