French manager Didier Deschamps could even afford to raise a smile, when he made his second substitution in his side’s 5-2 demolition of Iceland last night.
With all the stresses and strains that come with managing a major football nation at a home tournament, this was one of those rare occasions where everything had fallen into place.
Eighteen minutes remained when France’s most valued centre back, Arsenal’s Laurent Koscielny, was withdrawn and replaced by the less convincing Eliaquim Mangala.
As a contest the match was over at that stage and with Koscielny only a booking away from a one game suspension there was no incentive to take any unnecessary risks.
Olivier Giroud had been in the same position and had also been substituted twelve minutes earlier, after netting his second and third goals of the competition.
Deschamps may not directly admit it, but this was just as straightforward as the score line suggests and heavyweight semi-final clash with World Cup winners Germany now awaits.
France allowed to manage the situation
“It wasn't easy to manage everything, but this evening we did all we had to in the first half. Afterwards we let up a little, and I really wanted to protect Olivier Giroud and Laurent Koscielny” said the French manager.
“They were facing a possible suspension and it would have been really stupid to lose a player in such a game”.
Like in their previous four games at these Championships, Iceland battled hard and showed tremendous spirit but ultimately France’s quality prevailed.
Antoine Griezmann was exceptional and consciously found space in-between the compact Icelandic unit - which England found so difficult to break down.
The Atletico Madrid forward scored one and set up another for teammate Dimitri Payet, meaning Griezmann is now the top scorer at these Championships with four goals.
Paul Pogba also registered his first goal of the Championships, with Giroud adding the other two; however there is no question that Germany- who have conceded just one goal in the competition so far- will be a much tougher test.
Hosts will give their all against Germany
Admitting that "Germany have been the best team, without doubt" Deschamps expressed proudly; “But we are there, in the final four, and we will give our all against the best team not only in Europe, but the world”.
France will welcome back defender Adil Rami and midfielder N'Golo Kanté for the semi-final, after both missed last night’s game due to suspensions.
Deschamps will have to decide whether to revert back to the 4-3-3 formation which he started the tournament with, or stick with the 4-2-3-1 formation which worked so effectively in both last night’s game and in the second half against the Republic of Ireland- in which Griezmann and Giroud have been at their most effective.
The Frenchman added that “there are a lot of positives to take away from this evening", and that he's delighted for his players.
“To be able to offer them something to make them smile and feel happy and to have another week here – I'm delighted about that”.