France 5 Iceland 2: Talking points

Antoine Griezmann chipping the ball over goalie Hannes Halldorsson for France's fourth goal, after Iceland's high defence line was picked apart yet again.
Antoine Griezmann chipping the ball over goalie Hannes Halldorsson for France's fourth goal, after Iceland's high defence line was picked apart yet again. PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

ICELAND'S DEFENCE TOO HIGH

Iceland's defence looked intrinsically imperfect. Inside the first 20 minutes, France's midfielders Blaise Matuidi and Paul Pogba looped one wonderful pass over their backline each, and on both occasions it led to a goal.

In that period, Iceland's defensive positioning, both from open play and from set pieces, was exposed. France's fourth goal also came as a result of a defence that was stationed too high being caught on its heels.

GIROUD MAKES AMENDS

Just over a month ago, Olivier Giroud was being roundly and regularly booed by French fans.

But, after his two goals against Iceland, the cheers which rang around the Stade de France as he left the field in the second half told of his enhanced reputation. He was substituted only to protect him from the booking that would have ruled him out of the semi-final.

SISSOKO PROVIDES AN OPTION

Having replaced the suspended N'Golo Kante, Moussa Sissoko linked well with Giroud, Antoine Griezmann and Dimitri Payet and created better balance in both attack and midfield.

Didier Deschamps' big call for the semi-final will be whether to retain this arrangement.

It is a battle between conservatism and optimism, between reducing the team's chances of conceding and improving their chances of scoring.

THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 05, 2016, with the headline 'France 5 Iceland 2: Talking points'. Print Edition | Subscribe