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France look to go through unbeaten

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

RIBEIRAO PRETO, Brazil - If France beats Ecuador in tomorrow's Group E match, it will be the first time it has won all three group games in a major competition since 1998 — the year it went on to win the World Cup.

This kind of talk worries France coach Didier Deschamps, who captained the side in 1998 and who has been trying to play down the growing hype after his team's 5-2 thumping of Switzerland last Friday.

French Football Federation president Noel Le Graet has joined Deschamps in trying to quell rising expectations back home, saying "things are going quicker than I'd imagined. I think a bit too quickly and there's a little bit of excess."

Anything but a win against Ecuador will be seen as disappointing, however, considering how France has started the tournament with such attacking intent — scoring eight goals in two games after opening with a 3-0 win over Honduras.

But Deschamps is wary of dismissing Ecuador, given how the World Cup is becoming such a wide-open tournament.

"Who would think that Costa Rica would have six points, in the group they're in? I saw the match between Netherlands and Australia and there really wasn't much in it. Other teams have been doing well here, not just us."

A draw is enough to guarantee top spot for France, and would also send Ecuador through to the next round if Switzerland fails to beat Honduras in the other match.

Ecuador and Switzerland have three points each, but Ecuador has a better goal difference although it is likely to face a far more severe test against a French attack featuring Karim Benzema and Olivier Giroud, who both scored and created goals against the Swiss.

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