Nigeria (1-1-1) vs. France (2-0-1), Noon (ET)

 

The Sports Network

Brasilia, Brazil (SportsNetwork.com) - France enters its round of 16 fixture against Nigeria as a significant favorite at the Estadio Nacional on Monday, but the French are not taking anything for granted.

Les Bleus rolled through their first two games at the tournament by a combined score of 8-2 before running into a stubborn Ecuador side that held the French to a 0-0 draw.

"We have qualified, so one must be happy about that," said France forward Karim Benzema after the game with Ecuador. "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.

"Now we have to rest, recover and get 100 percent ready for the knockout match against Nigeria, who are a good, strong team."

The result against Ecuador was enough to clinch the top spot in Group E for France, but it also served as a reminder that the team must not lose focus after two impressive outings, especially now that Didier Deschamps' men have reached the knockout round.

That sentiment was echoed by midfielder Yohan Cabaye, who feels as though his team can take confidence from its group-stage performance but must also be wary of the threat posed by Nigeria.

"The fact we showed our quality in the group stage obviously should make us more confident but not arrogant, otherwise we are going to have major problems," said Cabaye, who could return to the starting lineup on Monday after sitting out France's last match through suspension.

Victor Moses was an injury worry for Nigeria, but he has returned to training and figures to take part in Monday's match, which could see Nigeria reach the quarterfinals for the first time at a World Cup.

The Super Eagles were left frustrated by a 0-0 draw with Iran in their opening match in Group F, but rebounded to edge Bosnia-Herzegovina, 1-0, in their most important fixture of the group stage.

That victory put them in a great spot to advance ahead of the meeting with group-winners Argentina, but they gave a good account of themselves and were level with the South American giants into the second half before falling to a goal from Marcos Rojo in a 3-2 defeat.

Nigeria's attack failed to really get going until the Argentina match, so despite the loss, it was a positive for head coach Stephen Keshi to take away from the game.

Keshi was a member of Nigeria's team at the 1994 World Cup when they reached the knockout round for the first time, and although his side is a considerable underdog in this fixture, he is still expecting to advance.

"Whether we are playing against Spain at the Confederations Cup or playing against Liberia in a friendly match, I always tell the boys that victory is non-negotiable," Keshi said.

Ahmed Musa has scored two of Nigeria's three goals at this tournament and he will need to be in top form again on Monday, while most of the playmaking duties have been carried out by Emmanuel Emenike, who has a pair of assists thus far.

Benzema has been the top target for France with three goals and two assists to this point, and he must rebound from his scoreless effort against Ecuador to lead the way for Les Bleus.

Read more Soccer stories from the Miami Herald

  •  
Burnley's Danny Ings battles for the ball with Swansea City's Ki Sung-Yueng during the English Premier League match at the Liberty Stadium, Swansea, Wales, Saturday Aug. 23, 2014. (AP Photo/PA, Nick Potts)  UNITED KINGDOM OUT  NO SALES  NO ARCHIVE

    Dyer goal earns Swansea 1-0 win over Burnley

    Swansea made it two wins from two games at the start of the Premier League season by beating Burnley 1-0 on Saturday thanks to Nathan Dyer's first-half goal.

  • Dallas beats Real Salt Lake, tied at top of West

    Dallas made it a three-way tie atop the standings of Major League Soccer's Western Conference by winning 2-1 at home against Real Salt Lake on Friday despite playing the second half a man down.

  • Marseille beats Guingamp 1-0

    Marseille beat Guingamp 1-0 in the French league on Saturday to earn its first win of the season under Argentine coach Marcelo Bielsa.

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category