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Preview: Iceland vs. France - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Friday's European Championship qualifier between Iceland and France, including predictions, team news and lineups.

Erik Hamren's Iceland welcome France to Reykjavik on Friday evening in an important Euro 2020 Group H qualifier.

The World Cup holders are currently behind Turkey at the top of the group on goal difference, while Iceland are three points further back in third.

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Alfred Finnbogason celebrates with teammates after equalising during the World Cup group game between Argentina and Iceland on June 16, 2018© Reuters

Iceland will be looking to make amends for their disappointing 4-2 defeat against Albania last time out against a France side they are yet to beat in 14 previous meetings.

Despite being at home, Hamren's team are likely to set up defensively, hoping to soak up France's pressure and then hit on the counter through the likes of Arnor Traustason and Burnley winger Johann Berg Gudmundsson.

However, the squad that has won them debuts at the European Championships and the World Cup is aging and their reliance on the likes of 36-year-old Kari Arnason in defence and 35-year-old free agent midfielder Emil Hallfredsson leaves them vulnerable to pace and physicality.

They will also be somewhat deficient in midfielder as captain Aron Gunnarsson has been ruled out with injury, with Everton star Gylfi Sigurdsson likely to drop deeper in his absence.

France coach Didier Deschamps on September 7, 2019© Reuters

France have won three qualifiers in a row since their defeat to Turkey in June, scoring 11 goals in the process, although it must be noted that seven of those were across two games against Andorra.

Heading into their game with Turkey next Tuesday, Didier Deschamps' side will be determined to take maximum points from Iceland and put more pressure on the current group leaders.

France won the home fixture with Iceland 4-0 back in March, with Kylian Mbappe among the scorers that day, although the Paris Saint-Germain forward will be unavailable for this game after pulling out of the squad through injury.

With Iceland likely to opt for a formation with five at the back, the main decision for Deschamps will be whether to go for a wide and expansive 4-3-3 or a more direct 4-4-1-1 that allows Antoine Griezmann to play off Olivier Giroud.

It is also likely though that the former Marseille man opts to rest some players with a view to the Turkey game, with form players like Jonathan Ikone and Alassane Plea in contention to get some minutes.

Iceland recent form: WLWWWL

France recent form (all competitions): WWLWWW

Team News

Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris lies injured on October 5, 2019© Reuters

Aside from captain Gunnarsson's absence, Hamren has more or less a fully fit squad to choose from for France's visit to the Icelandic capital.

Although they traditionally play with a conventional four at the back, Iceland went for five against France in March and they are likely to do the same again on Friday, with Hordur Magnusson entering the side as an additional centre-half and Millwall's Jon Dadi Bodvarsson playing as the lone frontman.

France were hit with a number of late injury withdrawals, most notably Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper Hugo Lloris and Mbappe.

Alphonse Areola is likely to deputise in Lloris' absence, while Kingsley Coman will probably continue in place of the former Monaco winger.

The main formation question for Deschamps will be whether to put N'golo Kante into midfield alongside Corentin Tolisso and Blaise Matuidi or whether to stick with just those two and Thomas Lemar out wide.

Iceland possible starting lineup:
Halldorsson; Hermannsson, Arnason, Magnusson, R. Sigurdsson, Skulason; Gudmundsson, G Sigurdsson, Bjarnason, Traustason; Bodvarsson

France possible starting lineup:
Areola; Pavard, Varane, Kimpembe, Digne; Kante, Tolisso, Matuidi; Coman, Giroud, Griezmann

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We say: Iceland 0-3 France

While France have had issues breaking down smaller teams in the past, they have always found a way past Iceland's defences and that looks set to continue on Friday night.

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Who will win Friday's Euro 2020 qualifier between Iceland and France?

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Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris lies injured on October 5, 2019
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