France didn’t apply high pressure, and it was a logical step from Deschamps: he wanted to force Iceland to positional play which isn’t really their way. With the ball, they retained their short style, although it was still sterile. Even if Griezmann and the attackers dropped back, they was stil too far from the ball-carrier to get the ball. Plus it seemed CBs don’t want to take any risk, they waited too much for the vertical pass. By the way, I don’t think so that in this line-up, it would have had been Griezmann’s role to step back as he likes o play in the final third. So, this 4-2-3-1 would have been really effective with a strong wing play, but France still used badly the wings. FBs stayed in a deep position, they didn’t do any under-or overlapping run. Wingers became isolated, and even if they dropped back, they hadn’t enough space to do 1v1s thanks to Iceland compact midfield line, but at least they would have been able to help to maintain possession. An other problem was the role of DMs: neither of them dropped back, but it’s not surprise as neither of them likes the role of regista. Kanté often dropped back for the ball at previous matches, but his position was often too deep. So this problem seems still unsolved.
Iceland’s positional play
As I’m just saying, Deschamps wanted to force Iceland to positional play, but Iceland spent just a little time in possession. When playing posession game, Icelandic players were too far from each other, but at least, they tried to have some verticality. Wingers often dropped back, and they did some vertical switches with FBs too. One of the CFs often dropped back sometimes. Gylfi Sigurdsson was very happy for being able to use his superior tactical intelligence. In summary, Iceland’s positional play wasn’t effective at all, but it was interesting to see it.
Iceland’s defensive issues
Iceland had some defensive issues too, they were immediately stunned for having it. In the 12th minute, when CFs didn’t apply pressure, but Icelandic defensive line stayed high, France take the lead thanks to Umtiti’s long ball and Giroud’s speed. After the second goal they tried to press high, but it was uncompact which allowed France to break through them easily.
First goal. No pressure on Umtiti, but defence stays high, easy long ball to Giroud.
Forth goal. Huge gap in the midfield line, defence doesn’t apply the offside trap. Easy penetration.
France maintain their deep block even if they didn’t have to hurry anyway. After 55 minutes played, Sigthorsson arrived to a cross from the right-wing, and scored the first goal. Soon after, Giroud scored his 2nd goal. Iceland was beaten in the air for the second time. France also had several occasions from counter-attacks, but they did too much tricks instead of finishing the actions quickly. The last goal was scored by Bjarnasson, from a left-wing-cross. Iceland’s two goals showed that they were mainly searching for the wings in possession, and break through with crosses.
so, Iceland’s dream has finished, but I think it’s a great result from them. Deschamps decided well with defending deeper and focusing to counter-attacks, making use well, from Iceland’s weaknesses. Maybe they would be more successful against Germany with the same game plan, as they positional play has still several issues.