France won't underestimate Iceland, who like their chance as well

Hosts France need an all-out effort and not just their reputation to beat confident surprise team Iceland in Sunday's Euro 2016 quarter-finals, captain Hugo Lloris warned.

Lloris and coach Didier Deschamps told a news conference in the Stade de France Saturday they have big respect for Iceland who knocked out England 2-1 in their last 16 game.

"It is not enough to be a big nation and to play good football if you want to win. It is rather about the collective values," goalkeeper Lloris said.

Lloris said France didn't need to be reminded by Wales' 3-1 win over Belgium Friday that "we have to be wary of all teams ... There are no more small teams in Europe. We studied them (Iceland) and we will not be surprised tomorrow."

Like Wales, Iceland have gained plenty of confidence with their remarkable run into what co-coach Heimir Hallgrimsson named "the biggest game of Icelandic football history."

Hallgrimsson said "we haven't see the best Iceland game yet," and insisted that while France have more individual class Iceland have an edge with its "unity, character and spirit. The French may say the same but we are better in these areas."

His coaching partner Lars Lagerback said: "France are the favourites but not a big favourite. I could say 60-40 but the percentage is not important, what counts is that we go out and believe we can beat them."

Iceland have captain Aron Gunnarsson, who plays at Welsh side Cardiff, fit to play after a back problem as he returned to training Friday.

Deschamps meanwhile did not want to reveal how he will replace suspended Adil Rami in defence, saying only that so far uncapped Samuel Umtiti would be no risk to be fielded because he has "good experience having played in the Champions League with Lyon."

Eliaquim Mangala, who has had a poor season for Manchester City, is another option. But France must also find a new man in midfield for N'Golo Kante who is suspended as well, which will ultimately depend on how Deschamps' game plan will be.

The coach said the team has trained to face Iceland's dangerous long throw-ins from captain Aron Gunnarsson which he considers "the equivalent of a set piece for them" and from which Iceland for instance scored against England.

Deschamps however has not practised penalties for a possible shoot-out because he said it is impossible to simulate such a scenario.

Looking at France's difficulties getting into games at the tournament, Deschamps said: "It is ideal to start and finish well."

France are yet to score a goal before half-time in the tournament. They recorded late wins over Romania and Albania, a goalless draw with Switzerland and a tense 2-1 comeback win over Ireland in the last 16 thanks to Antoine Griezmann's double.

France are unbeaten in 16 games at big home tournaments as they aim to add the Euro title on July 10 to those from Euro 1984 and the 1998 World Cup. The have also never lost against Iceland.

Deschamps and Lloris wasted no energy Saturday as they were taken by helicopter from the Clairefontaine base camp south-west of Paris to the national stadium which is north of the capital, and back - because France did not train at the stadium, in order to protect the turf there.

"The police put a helicopter at our disposal, which was very kind. So we had no fatigue from the journey," Deschamps said.

Last update: Sat, 02/07/2016 - 22:58
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