France coach Didier Deschamps said he was not concerned about his team’s goalless draw with Ecuador after two earlier high-scoring victories, saying the former world champions were just where he wanted them to be at this stage.
The 0-0 draw, which eliminated the South Americans from the competition, gave France top spot in their group and a meeting with Nigeria in the last 16.
Deschamps changed more than half his starting line-up for their last Group E game, knowing that France were already virtually guaranteed a place in the next round.
The strong showing stands in contrast with their dismal performance in South Africa four years ago when Les Bleus were knocked out in the initial group stage.
“It’s good to have done well in the first games. It good for confidence and we will seek to keep that up,” said Deschamps, captain of the 1998 World Cup winning team. “In the World Cup, the shirt always weighs a bit more heavily.
“We had the aim of qualifying, if possible in first place, and we have done that. We’re very pleased but it’s not over.”
After scoring eight times in their first two games in Brazil, Wednesday’s unfamiliar-looking French team wasted most of the game’s best chances of breaking the deadlock.
Deschamps played reserve striker Antoine Griezmann instead of Olivier Giroud and there were three new faces in defence.
Asked about his selection, Deschamps said bringing in new players always came with a risk of disrupting a team’s flow.
“Despite that, we had good movement,” Deschamps told a news conference. “Sure, we were less dangerous in the first half because Ecuador defended very well.”
Once Ecuador went down to 10 men after the sending off of Antonio Valencia early in the second half, France had more space and “we linked up very well but we were not clinical,” he said.
By finishing top of their group, ahead of Switzerland in second place, France avoided meeting Argentina in the next round and will line up against Nigeria instead.
Deschamps said the reigning African champions had shown their strength earlier on Wednesday despite losing 3-2 to Argentina. “It will definitely be a difficult match,” he said.
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