International friendly: France v Iceland Preview

By IndepthAfrica
In Soccer
May 25th, 2012
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France’s extensive group of attackers face a big test on Saturday in their quest to make manager Laurent Blanc’s squad for Euro 2012.

Blanc and his players will host Iceland in Valenciennes in the first of three friendlies France will play before the European Championship starts on June 8.

France’s preliminary squad of 26 must be trimmed down to 23 for the tournament.

Blanc has 11 players who can play in the forward third of the pitch and is unlikely to take all of them to Poland and Ukraine.

Saturday’s match will be the first chance the players have to impress their manager and earn a ticket to Euro 2012.

Karim Benzema, who has just completed his best-ever season with 32 goals in 52 matches for Real Madrid, is confident he will get the nod from Blanc.

“I am preparing myself in order to feel good in the French squad,” Benzema said on Tuesday.

“In any case you always need to be at your best, whether in your own club or in the French selection.

“I know that a lot is expected from me, like everyone else, but I need to be at my best just like the rest of the team so I don’t feel any pressure and I will try everything so as to be at my best.”

Other attackers at Blanc’s disposal include Olivier Giroud (Montpellier), Samir Nasri (Manchester City), Jeremy Menez (Paris Saint-Germain) and Franck Ribery (Bayern Munich).

France have decided on a fairly low-key preparation for Euro 2012, with Serbia the toughest opponent they will face before their first group match against England on June 12.

The Serbia friendly will be followed by a final hit-out against Estonia a week before the match versus England.

Iceland, who have won just one of their past 12 international games, will rely heavily on Swansea midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson against France.

Sigurdsson is one of a group of young Icelandic players making their way in the senior team.

Iceland qualified for the Under 21 European Championships with a team built around Sigurdsson, Cardiff City’s Aron Gunnarsson, Johann Gudmundsson of AZ Alkmaar and Ajax Amsterdam’s Kolbeinn Sigthorsson.

Saturday’s clash against France will be a big test for the Nordic island nation.

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