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France v Iceland: Three to watch

Sky Sports logo Sky Sports 03-07-2016
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They shocked the footballing world when they overcame a lacklustre England side in the first knockout round, and now over-achieving Iceland's prize is a Euro 2016 quarter-final berth against hosts France.

Didier Deschamps' France will be hoping they can put a stop to Iceland's meteoric rise in Paris on Sunday night and save themselves the embarrassment of an early exit from their own tournament.

Dimitri Payet and Gylfi Sigurdsson aside, here are three players to take a look during the tie at the Stade de France…

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Antoine Griezmann

After a below-par performance against Romania in the tournament's opener, the nippy frontman found himself among the substitutes as France took on Albania in their second Group A fixture.

This clearly ignited something within the 25 year-old, who came off the bench to open the scoring when he nodded home a cross from Adil Rami, with the score at 0-0 heading into the game's dying minutes.

Perhaps it was the grand occasion of the opening match that affected Griezmann's showing, because he went one better against the Republic of Ireland in the last round, rapidly netting a goal either side of the hour mark to confirm a quarter-final spot.

With 22 league goals last season, Atletico Madrid last week rewarded him with a new five-year contract; if he can replicate the displays he has put on in recent games - which he sees him having had the fourth highest amount of attempts at the tournament - Iceland's defence will need to be on full alert.

Photos: The best photos from Euro 2016

Football - UEFA European Championships 2016 Quarter Finals Germany v Italy Nouveau Stade de Bordeaux, Bordeaux, France - 2 Jul 2016 Graziano Pelle of Italy battles with Benedikt Howedes of Germany and Thomas Muller of Germany  during the UEFA Euro 2016 Q Euro 2016: the best photos from the tournament © Getty

Ragnar Sigurdsson

Arguably Iceland's standout performer in the previous round, Sigurdsson set the tiny nation on their way to victory when he cancelled out England opener within a minute of Rooney's penalty hitting the back of the net.

After his sixth-minute equaliser the centre-back, who plays his club football in Russia with Krasnodar, put in a stellar performance to nullify England's misfiring attack and protect Hannes Thor Halldórsson from any real danger.

Watch: France vs Iceland - preview

The 30 year-old's tournament performance has been one of a plethora of Icelandic positives, leading to rumours he has potential suitors in Tottenham and Leicester, yet it remains to be seen if Premier League millions can tempt a player who has previously admitted that he loves the extreme winters of his homeland.

His national side has not conceded more than one goal per game all tournament but in France, they face their biggest test yet and will have to do their utmost to keep Payet et al at bay.

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Paul Pogba

If reports are to be believed then Pogba will be departing Juventus and returning to Manchester United imminently as the world's most expensive player.

But Pogba - like his compatriot Griezmann - was demoted to the bench for the Albania tie after failing to impress as France stuttered to a 2-1 win over the south-eastern European minnows.

Often touted as the star of the current French side, he has been somewhat overshadowed by the breakout of Payet, but continues to be an imperative cog in the machine that sees the French edging ever closer to triumph on their own turf.

At his best he is unstoppable; a powerhouse capable of things many can only dream of, but while he is yet to reach his dizzy Juventus heights at Euro 2016, Iceland could prove ideal opponents to change this. On paper at least…

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