Ecuador v France – World Cup preview

The Group E closer is live on BBC1

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Ecuador v France (Group E), 8.30pm BBC1 (kick-off 9pm)

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One of the three most impressive teams in the tournament so far – France can duke it out with Holland and Mexico – plays out what’s almost a meaningless fixture for them against Ecuador. Only a big win for Ecuador, and another for Switzerland against Honduras, can send France home.

Pushing for a third straight start and a fourth goal will be Karim Benzema, for whom no game is meaningless since he’s chasing the Golden Boot. Neymar has a one-goal advantage over the Frenchman, but the Real Madrid marksman will fancy himself to score here, even if he’s once again pushed wider to accommodate Olivier Giroud. Can he produce a finish as brilliant as the one he delivered two agonising seconds after the final whistle blew against Switzerland?

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Ecuador are a functional but occasionally effective side, with Enner Valencia having so far matched Benzema with three goals against the same opposition. They have to beat France or be at the mercy of Switzerland’s winning margin against Honduras. On recent form, a French lapse looks unlikely. Some hope for Ecuador: deep-lying France playmaker Yohan Cabaye is suspended, while both centre-backs are probably out. Mamadou Sakho is injured and Raphael Varane is sick.