Karim Benzema and his coach, Didier Deschamps, believe France are in for another thorough examination of their qualities when they face Nigeria in the last 16 after their rugged encounter with Ecuador.
Les Bleus were free-scoring in their opening two games of the World Cup, but had to settle for a 0-0 draw against Ecuador – a result that also guaranteed the top spot in the group.
Benzema had three goals before the match, but missed number chances to keep pace with Lionel Messi, Neymar and Thomas Muller as the leading scorers at the tournament so far.
However, the Real Madrid striker insisted that was not important and that the French team must now focus on their next challenge against Nigeria.
“We have qualified, so one must be happy be that,” he said.
“It was a tough, tough match, and although we had a lot of success in front of goal in our previous games, this time we came across a team who caused us problems on a physical level.
“We had some good chances to score; we had opportunities but we came across a keeper who played out of his skin. Now we have to rest, recover and get 100 per cent ready for the knockout match against Nigeria, who are a good, strong team, but we must do everything to win.”
His coach, Deschamps is looking for a win, too, even though he does not believe his side will have an easy time when they meet Nigeria.
“Some people thought we were the kings of the world after beating Switzerland 5-2, but Ecuador showed they have qualities and Argentina had a difficult match against Nigeria,” he said.
“Nigeria are a strong, fast team who have great qualities and it is going to be a really difficult match and we will have to fight.”
France struggled to break down the well-drilled Ecuador side at the Estádio do Maracana, Rio de Janeiro, with many questioning Deschamps’ decision to ring several changes in his squad.
But the former France captain defended his decision and added that he was confident his charges will play better against Nigeria.
“My team selection was not by chance and it’s important that all players get into the rhythm,” Deschamps said.
“Now, we have five days to prepare for our game against Nigeria.”