Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Now Is the Time for France to Really Get Their Party Started; Coverage in Association With

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Now Is the Time for France to Really Get Their Party Started; Coverage in Association With

Article excerpt

France v Iceland Quarter-final 8pm, Sunday (ITV) FRANCE will try to raise the national mood when they face England's conquerors on Sunday night, writes James Eastham.

The hosts have yet to really dominate a game and the way their fixtures have been spaced out means public fervour has yet to truly build behind the side.

France had a week's rest between their final group game against Switzerland and their last-16 win over Republic of Ireland last Sunday, and have had to wait another week for their last-eight meeting with Iceland.

The atmosphere in the stadiums for France's games has been excellent but the stop-start nature of their tournament has diluted some of that passion in between matches.

That may change, though, as Sunday is potentially the start of three games in eight days, which could end with them crowned kings of Europe.

Iceland captured Europe's imagination after accounting for England and although France will not take them lightly they seem quietly confident.

The hosts produced their best 45 minutes of the tournament to defeat Republic of Ireland 2-1 and will look to build on their promising second-half performance.

Antoine Griezmann -- who scored both goals in that game -- and Dimitri Payet have shown they can be matchwinners and France will believe they are better-equipped than England to open-up Iceland's well-organised back line.

Laurent Koscielny will have an important role as his regular centre-back partner Adil Rami is suspended.

Eliaquim Mangala and Samuel Umtiti are competing to replace Rami and latest reports say Umtiti, having impressed in training, is favourite to get the nod.

That is a surprise as Mangala was in the original 23-man squad whereas Umtiti was on standby and only came in after injury to Barcelona's Jeremy Mathieu.

Lyon's Umtiti could be joining Mathieu at the Nou Camp next season but it would be a risk to give the Under-20 World Cup winner his senior international debut. …

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