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France v Nigeria preview: Benzema expects tough clash

France's forward Karim Benzema (centre), juggles the ball with Paul Pogba (left) and Raphael Varanne (right).

France's forward Karim Benzema (centre), juggles the ball with Paul Pogba (left) and Raphael Varanne (right).

Karim Benzema believes France are in for another thorough examination of their qualities against Nigeria in the last 16 after their rugged encounter with Ecuador.

Les Bleus had been 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 top spot in the group for Didier Deschamps’ side.

Benzema had three goals before the match but missed a number chances to keep pace with Lionel Messi, Neymar and Thomas Muller as the leading scorers at the tournament so far.

The Real Madrid striker insisted however that was not important and that the French team must now focus on their next challenge.

He said: “We have qualified, so one must be happy be that.

“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 up 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 knock-out match against Nigeria, who are a good, strong team, but we must do everything to win.”

France’s Tottenham keeper Hugo Lloris said the team are determined to make a real impact in the knock-out rounds.

He said: “Ecuador was certainly the toughest team we have had to play so it was a great success and we defended well.

“Now, the competition will change and everything depends on one game. We are all determined to go far in this competition.”

 

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