Belfast Telegraph

Garmany are favourites says France's goal hero Giroud

Blue heaven: French players celebrate their victory over Iceland
Blue heaven: French players celebrate their victory over Iceland

By Mark Ogden

Olivier Giroud remarkably claimed that France cannot be 'confident' ahead of Thursday's Euro 2016 semi-final against Germany after his two goals in Paris secured a 5-2 quarter-final victory against Iceland.

Didier Deschamps' team will face the Germans in Marseille aiming to book a Final date against Wales or Portugal at Stade de France on July 10.

But with Germany extending their hold over the French with a 1-0 quarter-final win at Brazil 2014 - France have not beaten Germany in a competitive fixture since the 1958 World Cup - Arsenal forward Giroud admitted that Joachim Low's team will go into the semi-final as favourites.

"We are very pleased," said Giroud. "We had a lot of fun and are very pleased with our performance, but we will try and erase some of the defensive mistakes because, against Germany, we will be punished.

"Are we confident (about playing Germany)? No, Germany are the world champions and will be favourites. But we want to write another chapter in the history of French football. We need to rest up and focus once again because we have a big match against the world champions."

France coach Deschamps, who captained the country to World Cup glory in 1998, echoed Giroud's claims by insisting that Germany are the strongest team in the tournament. "Germany are the best side, there's no doubt about that - although they had a few scares against Italy," Deschamps said. "We're going to really go for it against the best side in the world."

Iceland's defeat ended the country's fairytale run in the competition - the tiny Atlantic nation's first appearance in a major tournament.

And joint coach Lars Lagerback, who will step down after the tournament, insists that the team can now build in their performances at Euro 2016.

"Coming as a newcomer and getting to the quarter-finals, the players have done a marvellous job," Lagerback said. "Even if it's disappointing now, the whole picture is a fantastic journey.

"Iceland's future looks good. There are some young players here, and if everyone stays in good clubs or even better clubs, the future looks really positive."

Iceland midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson claimed that the team's run to the last eight will now inspire a new generation of youngsters. "We're very proud," the Swansea City midfielder said. "It's been a fantastic tournament, something special for a small team like us, we probably achieved something no one expected us to."

Belfast Telegraph