France will open their 2014 World Cup campaign against Honduras at the Estadio Beira-Rio on Sunday, and their coach Didier Deschamps has warned his side not to take the Central Americans lightly.
Deschamps' team has been given an easy draw on paper as they are pooled alongside Switzerland, Ecuador and Honduras in Group E. But France, who suffered a shock group stage exit in last year's World Cup in South Africa, are keen not to be carried away.
The French boss reminded his team that every match is crucial and they cannot afford to be complacent against any team. He referred to Brazil's opening fixture against Croatia, in which the Samba boys were made to work hard for their victory.
"We are not playing qualifiers any more, all 32 teams are of a high level," Deschamps pointed out. "I don't have to remind you that before yesterday a great team like Spain also lost to Switzerland four years ago, Brazil also had a tough match against Croatia and it is obvious we won't have an easy match tomorrow."
In a friendly just before the World Cup, Honduras held England to a goalless draw, even with Brayan Beckeles sent off. The Central Americans have earned a reputation of being a physical side but Deschamps insisted that Honduras know how to defend and have good technical skills.
"They are aggressive and know how to defend, I saw that in the friendly against England. They played very well as a team even with 10 players and they have good technical skills. But they don't just defend, otherwise they wouldn't be ranked 31st in the world."
Meanwhile, striker Karim Benzema stressed that France are not taking their opponents lightly, and there are no easy games in the finals. He added that the priority is to qualify to the knockout stages.
"Well, I am aware of the surprises involved in a World Cup," Benzema said. "Our coach, the former captain of the World Cup winning 1998 team, Didier Deschamps, had clearly defined what should be our roles during the World Cup. We need to qualify from the group first and for that we need to play three very very good games. Yes, there are no easy games in a World Cup."
The 26-year-old said it is unfortunate to not have Franck Ribery in the World Cup. France lost their star playmaker to a back injury, and Benzema reckons they are preparing themselves in the best possible manner in the absence of Ribery.
"Well, it's unfortunate for both Franck and us. He was so keen to play the World Cup, but he picked up this injury at a horrible time," the Real Madrid striker said. "When a player of his calibre is not available, you are bound to feel it."