A 1-0 victory with a late penalty from Le Sommer means France start the Euros with a precious win, but will have to go back to the drawing board before the Austria game.
France started in a 4-2-3-1 system with Le Sommer as the lone striker, Thomis on the right side and Le Bihan on the left side. Abily was the playmaker with Bussaglia and Henry behind her. Houara, Georges preferred to M’Bock bathy, Renard and Karchaoui. Bouhaddi was in goal as usual.
The first point to mention is how much influence the referee has on the game. She was quite lenient forgetting to whistle penalties, yellow cards, a red card and was inconsistent as well with her bookings.
She let so many things go unpunished on both side, that it was no surprise to see a French player being subbed after being injured with a twisted ankle. Talking about not controlling a game and favoring physical play rather than football, it was another typical example of those kind of games.
It is quite clear that with a different referee, who would have been stricter and fully applying the LOTG, the game would have been played differently. I note that the VAR would also have changed the game, fouls in the penalty area ignored by the referee with fouls on both side that could have been seen and punished.
It is funny to note that Henry to win the decisive penalty had to clearly show the referee that she was being held to get the foul, otherwise it would not have been given, as it happened in the first half of the game.
External factor aside, it was certainly not a great performance from France, way too many technical mistakes on the final ball and passes. Against a team playing physically and pushing you in virtual and real sense, you can either raise your physical level to start a trench battle but it would means no football being played. And with a random decision making referee, it can quickly lead to being red carded without warning.
Or you can try to play better football, go round the opposition defense and that was the logical option. So France kept trying to breach the Icelandic defense without much success, because the technical link between players was not there.
Some players under performed, others clearly lacked match sharpness, the speed of play and passing precision was missing in the final third for Les Bleues against a tight defensive block. It is not easy at all to go through or around such a good defense, but having Le Sommer as a lone striker was not great.
In the end France finished the game with four attacking players Diani, Delie, Thiney, le Sommer plus Abily and Henry in midfield and having numbers up front certainly helped. .
Credit to the players for battling until the end of a poor game in term of team performance. Some individuals shone throughout the game, but many players were just average or below average and will need to raise their level against Austria.
At the end of the day, Iceland had a clear gameplan to disrupt the French attacking game and it worked well, while France had a gameplan and did not apply it to the best of their technical ability.
Attacking football in the end prevailed, but it was very close to another failure and 1-0 defeat as we have seen many through the years for France. There will be work to do in training to try to solve the problems as the next game against Ausria is likely to follow the same scenario.