France - Iceland Preview: Les Bleus commence Euro 2012 preparation with friendly against the Nordic nation
Laurent Blanc's men begin their final preparations for this summer's tournament with a friendly against Iceland in Valenciennes, with wholesale changes expected.
By Mohammed Ali
Debuchy, Koscielny, Rami, Clichy
Ben Arfa, Gourcuff, Ribery
Saevarsson, K Sigurdsson, Ottesen, Val'sson
G Sigurdsson, Bjarnson, Gudmondsson
France coach Laurent Blanc has admitted that Sunday's friendly match against Iceland is an opportunity for the fringe players in his preliminary squad to stake their claim in France's 23-man final squad for this summer's European Championship.
The likes of Mathieu Debuchy and Anthony Reveilliere are vying for the right-back role after Bacary Sagna's injury ruled him out of the tournament, and a few other positions will also see fierce competition ahead of the May 29 squad deadline. Les Bleus have been dealt a blow with the news that Loic Remy will not feature at all this summer due to a thigh injury.
|Blanc targets last eight
Arsenal's Laurent Koscielny is expected to start, as should Yoann Gourcuff who returns to the national team set-up after an indifferent season littered with injuries and poor form. Blanc may opt to start Olivier Giroud ahead of Karim Benzema, although the Real Madrid forward should feature at some point.
With Blanc's wishes to see out wholesale changes in Valenciennes on Sunday, Marseille duo Steve Mandanda and Alou Diarra are also liable to start ahead of Yohan Cabaye and new captain Hugo Lloris. Meanwhile, Hatem Ben Arfa is in line to return from a near two-year absence from the set-up, having last appeared for France in August 2010.
Iceland, under new coach Lars Lagerback, are liable to keep much of the side who lost both of their February friendlies against Japan and Montenegro, with Swansea's Gylfi Sigurdsson being the star attraction.
|DID YOU KNOW|
France are undefeated in 18 games, and were last beaten by Belarus in September 2010 in their first competitive game under Laurent Blanc.
- Les Bleus have only one uncapped player in their preliminary squad for Euro 2012 - Montpellier's Ligue 1-winning captain Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa (pictured right).
- Blanc's men encounter Serbia and Estonia next, before their Group D opener against England in Donetsk on June 11.
Iceland have only won one of their last 12 internationals.
- They netted three against Portugal in their final Euro 2012 qualifier, ultimately losing 5-3.
- Iceland's previous game against Les Bleus ended in a 3-2 defeat in October 1999. David Trezeguet scored the winner for the hosts.
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Top 3 Predictions
France 3-0 Iceland
- 18.99 %
France 2-0 Iceland
- 17 %
France 3-1 Iceland
- 9.05 %
|International Friendlies (FR)||27 May 2012||France 3 - Iceland 2|
|26 Mar 2013||France 0 - Spain 1||WCQE|
|22 Mar 2013||France 3 - Georgia 1||WCQE|
|6 Feb 2013||France 1 - Germany 2||FR|
|14 Nov 2012||Italy 1 - France 2||FR|
|16 Oct 2012||Spain 1 - France 1||WCQE|
|Returns:||France £120.00||Sign up with William Hill for a free bet up to £25|
|Returns:||Draw £80.00||Sign up to Paddy Power for £250 in free bets|
|Returns:||Iceland £190.00||Sign up to Paddy Power for £250 in free bets|
|-||Hatem Ben Arfa|
|-||Hannes Thór Halldórsson||Goalkeeper|
|-||Hjörtur Logi Valgardsson|
|17||Aron Einar Gunnarsson||Midfielder|
|-||Ari Freyr Skúlason||Midfielder|
|-||Helgi Valur Danielsson||Midfielder|