Coach Deschamps says France ready for Iceland challenge
Paris, July 2 (IANS) France head coach Didier Deschamps said that his team will not treat Iceland as a bunch of long-throw experts, adding that the hosts are up for the challenge when the two sides clash in the European football championship quarter-final here on Sunday.
Minnows Iceland progressed to the last eight by virtue of a shock 2-1 victory over England in Nice on Monday, with their first goal coming as a result of one such throw.
"We've worked on things, but we know Iceland are not here by chance. They have not stolen their place here, and they are not just about the long throws -- it's just that they have more throw-ins than corners so they make the most of it," Deschamps was quoted as saying by goal.com on Saturday.
"But they have a number of other attributes about their play, they don't just loft the ball forward. They have players of athletic power but they have (Johann) Gudmundsson, (Birkir) Bjarnason and (Gylfi) Sigurdsson who are very technically gifted. What's important is really making sure we are up to the challenge."
Deschamps will be forced into a defensive change to the France side which saw off the Republic of Ireland in their round of 16 encounter due to the suspension of Adil Rami.
But while Barcelona-bound Samuel Umtiti has been tipped for an international debut, Deschamps has not ruled out calling upon Manchester City's Eliaquim Mangala instead.
"Do you want me to tell you Eliaquim Mangala's attributes too or are you not bothered?!" the head coach joked when asked about the Lyon defender's qualities.
"Samuel has a lot of experience because he has already played in the Champions League with Lyon and was an under-21 champion with France. He's very strong in the challenge, is technically gifted with the first pass out of defence and is worthy of being an international player as well as earning a potentially big move."
The clash with Iceland takes place on Sunday at the Stade de France, with the winners facing Germany or Italy in Thursday's semi-final.