Ecuador vs France: Karim Benzema hails Ecuador goalkeeper Alexander Dominguez and reveals the way to beat France is to 'disrupt them physically'

French were held to a goalless draw at the Maracana although the result was enough to take them through as Group E winners

Patrice Evra came into the Maracana mixed zone with a smile on his face but didn’t want to speak. Whether that was down to Luis Suarez so sensationally opening his own mouth against Italy wasn’t clear. Evra obviously has a controversial history with the Uruguayan but another player whose future may be affected by the Liverpool striker who was much more willing to talk.

Karim Benzema, though, was also smiling.

“It's mythical,” he gushed after France’s 0-0 draw with Ecuador in the Maracana. “Every footballer wants to play in this stadium.”

Every footballer usually wants to play for Real Madrid too. One school of thought around the Bernabeu, however, is that they want Suarez to upgrade their forward line - and that Benzema will be the player to eventually lose out.

Some have argued that it has been a motivational factor in the French forward's supreme form throughout this World Cup, and that he wants to make Real think twice as well as really earn himself some significant suitors. The long-standing link with Arsenal still hasn’t gone away.


Through his goals and general play at this World Cup, Benzema has converted himself from that type of second-tier striker to someone so much more marketable. It is as if he is finally fulfilling the potential so many talked about before he first joined Madrid in 2009.

Unlike the last five years at the Bernabeu, he is no longer just someone else’s support act. For France, he is that main man.

Match report: Ecuador 0 France 0

It is probably no coincidence, then, that Didier Deschamps encountered their first struggles of the competition on the night when Benzema wasn’t at his strident best. Ecuador made life tough for the French, and were unlucky not to win.

“It was a difficult match,” Benzema said. “In the first half especially it was hard because they defended well as a team. After the red card [for Antonio Valencia], there was more space.”

Benzema still almost maximised that, especially with one searing second-half drive that stung the hands of Ecuador number-one Alexander Dominguez, who ended up being named man of the match.

“Why didn’t we score?” Benzema wondered. “Their goalkeeper! We had chances but he dealt with them all. We had a lot of success in the game before [against Switzerland] because practically every shot went in. Today, we came up against a team that disrupted us, especially with their physicality.”

Despite the restrictions, Benzema did manage to dazzle at some points, particularly through a fine one-two with Blaise Matuidi. The striker wasn’t completely kept in check, and still looks ready to charge into the next round.

“We wanted to win, but the important thing is that we've qualified.”

It may have even more important repercussions for Benzema’s career.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest in Sport
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific