Hugo Lloris hailed France’s strength in depth after Les Blues set up a World Cup quarter-final against Germany with a 2-0 win over Nigeria.
The game was deadlocked at 0-0 until coach Didier Deschamps introduced Antoine Griezmann for Olivier Giroud and France scored twice in the final 11 minutes to seal victory in Brasilia.
On each of the last five occasions France have qualified from the first stage, they have gone on to reach the semi-finals or better – in 1958, 1982, 1986, 1998 and 2006 – and Lloris insists the unity in the camp, in stark contrast to their troubles of four years ago in South Africa, has created a positive mood they can advance further once again.
“It shows how strong the spirit is in this team that we can make changes and still be strong,” the Tottenham goalkeeper told Standard Sport. “The manager makes decisions, he picks the best eleven and afterwards players are just focus on the performance. They try to give everything but if the first eleven doesn’t make the difference, there are others who can come and make it like today. We have a lot of options.
“We have a good feeling. Since the beginning of our preparation we have had a good feeling about this World Cup because we are working hard together. The spirit is fantastic but we have to continue.”
France midfielder Paul Pogba broke the deadlock with a close range header after a mistake from Nigeria goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama before captain Joseph Yobo scored an own goal in stoppage time.
Pogba has flourished at Juventus since leaving Manchester United in 2012 after failing to agree terms on a new contract and Lloris believes the 21-year-old will improve for playing a key role in an important win.
“He is still young and he has a lot of things to learn,” he said. “But that kind of game can help him to get more confidence because to score and be decisive in the last 16 of a World Cup is a big thing. But now, he is like all his team-mates. He needs to rest and to be in the best condition for the next step.”