France are hot favourites to progress to the quarter-finals of the World Cup when they tackle Nigeria in their round of 16 clash at the Estadio Nacional in Brasilia on Monday. Didier Deschamps’ side, who lifted the World Cup on home soil back in 1998, impressed as they topped Group E with comprehensive and goal-laden victories over Honduras and Switzerland before drawing 0-0 with Ecuador. Nigeria, meanwhile, finished second in Group F behind Argentina and are targeting their first-ever World Cup quarter-final berth in their first knockout match since 1998. Deschamps made a number of changes for the Ecuador clash and is expected to recall some key players, with Yohan Cabaye set to return from suspension in place of Morgan Schneiderlin. Defender Mamadou Sakho is a doubt due to the thigh injury which forced him off in the 61st minute of their final group game, meaning Laurent Koscielny and Raphael Varane could start in central defence. Moussa Sissoko could start ahead of Paul Pogba, Mathieu Valbuena is set to return after being rested, while Olivier Giroud and Antoine Griezmann are battling to start up front alongside Golden Boot hopeful Karim Benzema. Arsenal defender Koscielny is keen to play down France’s hopes of global glory in Brazil, particularly as Deschamps’ side had to overturn a 2-0 first leg play-off defeat against Ukraine just to qualify. He said: “The first objective was to get through the group phase. Now it’s to go as far as possible. “We are competitors and we are ambitious, but we know that we have opponents against us and that we might lose. “We’re aware of our qualities. Something changed after the Ukraine game, but anything is possible in a knockout match and for the moment we’re only focusing on the last 16.” Moses Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi will hope to have Chelsea’s Victor Moses available again after he returned to training with the squad on Saturday following the muscle complaint that kept him out of the 3-2 defeat by Argentina. Keshi’s only confirmed absentee is winger Michael Babatunde, who sustained a fractured wrist after being struck by Ogenyi Onazi’s shot in their final Group E fixture. Nigeria captain Joseph Yobo could earn his 101st cap when he leads his side out against France, and having just faced Argentina ace Lionel Messi, he claims that they will not fear Monday’s opponents. He told fifa.com: “We won the Africa Cup of Nations, booked our place in the World Cup without any trouble and now we’ve qualified for the second round. It’s not often that I’ve experienced so many pieces of good news in a row. “That shows you we’re improving. This team is young, but it’s growing fast and learning quickly. We’re taking confidence from our campaign so that it can help us in our next match. “We’ve just played against the best forward in the world, so we’re ready to measure ourselves against anybody. “I don’t see what we should be afraid of. I believe in this team, and I think we can do it.”
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