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France vs Iceland - France wary of threat posed by Iceland

Sunday, July 03, 2016 Source: PA

Both France coach Didier Deschamps and his captain Hugo Lloris insist the hosts will not underestimate the threat of Iceland when the nations meet in the quarter-finals of Euro 2016 on Sunday night.

Outsiders Iceland have progressed to the last eight after upsetting England in the previous round, having advanced through Group F in second spot.

The tournament debutants are yet to lose a game but will again be long shots to beat France at the Stade de France.

Les Bleus came from behind to beat the Republic of Ireland last Sunday and have still yet to truly hit top gear as they look to claim their third European Championship crown.

The last time the sides met, before Euro 2012, France came from two goals behind at half-time to win 3-2 and Deschamps insists they know Iceland pose a threat.

"We have a lot of respect for everything Iceland have achieved and are achieving at the moment," he said at his pre-match press conference.

"They have a team which includes players from the Premier League and they're not small-time players. They're not here by chance.

"They've not stolen anything to get to this point. They've done great things and they deserved to beat England in the last 16 because of what they produced on the pitch."

Tottenham goalkeeper Lloris echoed his coach's comments and has called on the side to stay unified as they look to reach the last four.

"We definitely have a lot more players who play at top European club sides than Iceland and we have a touch more experience," he said.

"But, since the start of the competition, they've proved to be a very surprising outfit.

"Through a simple style of play, they focus on their strengths and have caused top sides like Portugal and England problems.

"If we go out there thinking, 'we have more talent so we'll win', we won't. We need to match them for commitment and motivation and then hope our own teamwork does the talking."

Adil Rami scored the third and final goal in that friendly match four years ago but the Sevilla defender is banned this time around, with Leicester's N'Golo Kante also missing through suspension.

Iceland are determined to keep their Euro 2016 dreams alive and captain Aron Gunnarsson only needs to look to Wales, the country he calls home, for inspiration.

There has never been a smaller nation at a major tournament, but what the Nordic island lacks in depth they make up for in attitude and aptitude.

The quarter-final is a match they approach with steadfast belief in the threat they pose to Deschamps' men and skipper Gunnarsson only needs to look to the country he has lived in since 2011 for proof that a collective can better a group of supremely-talented individuals.

The shrewd midfielder with a mammoth throw has just completed his fifth season at Cardiff and was thoroughly impressed by Wales' shock quarter-win against Belgium on Friday evening.

"Like we knew before the tournament, they were not favourites to reach that far and we weren't either," Gunnarsson said.

"It is a joy to watch and I think Wales are a force to be reckoned with. They have got a good squad, good players and a tough togetherness.

"I think they're showing great attitude and desire to win football matches.

"It is something we can definitely learn from. I think we are quite similar to them, especially in that direction."

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