Annecy (France) (AFP) – Iceland defender Birkir Mar Saevarsson says the Euro 2016 minnows cannot afford to lose concentration for a second against hosts France in Sunday’s quarter-final as they seek another huge upset.
Iceland shocked the football world by dumping England out of the European Championship finals with a shock 2-1 win in the last 16 to set up a last-eight clash at the Stade de France.
France will be “better and more cohesive” than England, said right-back Saevarsson, who ensured England’s left winger Raheem Sterling had a quiet game in Nice.
“We expect a different game to the one against England. The French play at a higher tempo but they also have dangerous individuals,” said the 31-year-old defender.
Saevarsson plies his trade for Swedish side Hammarby and is preparing for the biggest game of his career at the sold-out Stade de France.
After dealing with England’s Sterling, Saevarsson’s next task is to contain France’s West Ham winger Dimitri Payet, who has scored two goals so far at Euro 2016.
“He’s obviously a player who has very big qualities and he seems to play well in every game,” said Saevarsson.
“It’s just about being aggressive and most of all don’t let him get inside and shoot with his right foot, try and keep him on his left.
“It’s hard to find any weakness in the French team, so we have to give him as little time on the ball as possible.”
Co-coach Lars Lagerback says Iceland’s inspirational captain Aron Gunnarsson should be fit to face the French.
“He will train today. He has a few problems with his back, but he should be fit,” Iceland’s Swedish coach said.
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