France was unable score against the 10-man Ecuador side and settled for a 0-0 draw.
France manager, Didier Deschamps, opted to go with a more youthful line-up in their final game against Ecuador. He made six changes from their previous game against Switzerland to keep his starting 11 fresh for the round of 16
Although they only needed a draw to move on, they struggled to find a way to score against the Ecuadorian defense.
With Moussa Sissoko deployed on the right wing and Antoine Griezmann on the other side, they lacked the creativity that was offered from the wings by Mathieu Valbuena. Also the fact that Yohan Cabaye was suspended for this game, Morgan Schneiderlin had to fill in the defensive midfielder role.
Even with Paul Pogba and Blaise Matuidi manning the central midfield position, France still lacked creativity.
Their first attempt was a decent half volley attempt by Sissoko, who was on the receiving end of a cross by Matuidi, but goalkeeper, Alexander Dominguez makes an easy save to deny the Frenchmen in the 15th minute.
France was at it again when Griezmann’s free-kick was met by Pogba, who tried to head it home, but once again France was denied by Dominguez in the 38th minute.
Ecuador also tried to make things happen to pressure the French defense when Michael Arroyo crossed the ball toward Enner Valencia who headed right at the French skipper, Hugo Lloris in the 41st minute. Lloris made a decent save to deny Valencia, and the first half ended with a bore draw.
French star striker, Karim Benzema, failed to get it going in the first half and was unable to find space and link up with his teammates.
It seemed as though France were more content with the draw, even though they created more chances. They were a little sluggish and lacked creativity for the final ball.
The second half was more action packed.
Griezmann had a great chance right from the restart in the 47th minute, but Dominguez makes another great save to keep the score line 0-0.
In the 50th minute, however, Ecuador skipper, Antonio Valencia, made a reckless challenge with his studs up on Lucas Digne and steps on him, resulting in a red card for the Ecuadorian.
Even with a man down, Ecuador did not hesitate to push forward and continuously pressured France. They did not want to go down without a fight with their hope to bid to the round of 16 still alive, although the Swiss were leading in their game and only needed a win to advance.
Ecuador had a brilliant chance on a breakaway in the 54th minute when Valencia found an open Christian Noboa on the right side. Unfortunately, Noboa was unable to score, let alone test the keeper, and sent his shot wide off the mark.
After the red card, France was able to find more space within the Ecuadorian defense. But even with the amount of space France is able to have, they still could not find the breakthrough needed to win the game.
There was another great shot attempt by Matuidi in the 62nd minute, but it was the same result, with Dominguez making a simple save.
Benzema was also able to get in the game more with the amount of space he’s able to find, but is also unable to make things happen for France to score a goal.
Deschamps was trying to go for the win with his substitutions when he put in Loic Remy and Olivier Giroud for Griezmann and Matuidi respectively.
The attacking trio was able to apply more pressure by testing Dominguez frequently, but the Ecuadorian goalkeeper was able to make all the saves to deny France all three points.
Ecuador managed to salvage a point against the group leaders, but it wasn’t enough to propel them through the group stage.
Even with the draw, France managed to win the group in comfortable fashion with seven points.
But, there are some concerns to the France team going into the knockout stages.
Sissoko was deployed as a winger this game as Deschamps likes to use three midfielders in the midfield and wingers out wide to complement the lone striker. However, he is not a winger and it showed in this game. He looked very uncomfortable and looking lost at times, not getting involved in plays like Valbuena.
France really missed Valbuena and Cabaye’s creativity and presence and it showed. Their finishing was not clinical, but the Ecuadorian goalkeeper deserves a lot of credit. He made numerous saves to deny France and deservedly the man of the match.
France now faces a Nigeria team that has a lot of confidence after their Argentina game. France better be wary of the speedy wingers on the Nigerian team and must finish chances when given. France will play their round of 16 game on Monday June 30th at 12 p.m. EST.