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3 vs 2
Played
May 27, 2012 8:00 PM BST
Stade du Hainaut — Valenciennes
Referee:‬ S. Delferière‎
Attendance:‬ 24000‎
 

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

Yoann Gourcuff & Hatem Ben Arfa (France)
Panoramic
  PROBABLE LINEUPS

FRANCE

Mandanda
Debuchy, Koscielny, Rami, Clichy
Diarra, M'Vila
Ben Arfa, Gourcuff, Ribery
Giroud
ICELAND
Gunleifsson
Saevarsson, K Sigurdsson, Ottesen, Val'sson
Jonasson, Gunnarsson
G Sigurdsson, Bjarnson, Gudmondsson
Gislason

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.
Euro 2012
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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International Friendlies ‎(FR)‎ 27 May 2012 France 3 - Iceland 2
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Players to Watch
Yann M'Vila
Yann M'Vila
Position:
Squad Number: 0
Games Goals YC RC
0 0 0 0
The Rennes midfielder has been heavily linked with a move to either Arsenal or Inter Milan in recent weeks, and a good showing this summer in Poland & Ukraine will only boost his burgeoning reputation. M'Vila endured a torrid ending to his Rennes career, but possesses huge potential and, unwittingly, the key to France's hopes this summer. A tough-tackling midfielder, with a good passing range and awareness of the game, M'Vila is the man to watch at Stade du Hainaut.
Gylfi Sigurdsson
Gylfi Sigurdsson
Position: Midfielder
Squad Number: 20
Games Goals YC RC
1 0 0 0
The 22-year-old midfielder joined Swansea City on loan from Hoffenheim in January, and within weeks, has set the Premier League alight with a series of dazzling displays for Brendan Rodgers' men. Seven goals in 17 appearances has helped fuel rumours of a permanent move for the Premier League player of the month in March, and he is arguably the best player Iceland has produced since Eidur Gudjohnsen. Able to play on either wing and in attacking midfield, Sigurdsson has a task to ensure his nation prepares well to nullify the Gallic threat.
Prediction
Heading into a major international tournament, France have shaken off much of the problems that dogged them in the run-up to Euro 2008 and World Cup 2010. The momentum is there with an 18-match unbeaten run, culminating in that fabulous win against Germany in February, and les Bleus should record a big win in Valenciennes on Sunday.
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