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Soccer-France to make changes for Ecuador clash - Deschamps

Reuters

By William Schomberg

RIO DE JANEIRO, June 24 (Reuters) - France coach Didier Deschamps will bring fresh faces into the team for Wednesday's World Cup match against Ecuador with the former world champions all but guaranteed a place in the knock-out phase.

Midfielder Yohan Cabaye is ineligible for the third and final Group E game at the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro after he received a yellow card in each of France's first two matches in Brazil, both of which they won comfortably.

Defenders Raphael Varane, Patrice Evra and Mathieu Debuchy may not feature - due to injuries or the need for - and media reports have also said striker Mathieu Valbuena is doubtful.

"To get experience at some point you have to play," Deschamps told reporters when asked about the likelihood of a significantly changed France side from the one that trounced Switzerland 5-2 last week.

"Some time or other, they are going to make their debuts or come back into the team," he told reporters.

"You need to find the right balance between those with less experience, those who have already played two matches. You can't have a team with players who have no familiarity of playing together."

Deschamps said he was not under-estimating the strength of Ecuador who are seeking to qualify for the knock-out phase of a World Cup for only the second time.

"I have too much respect for Ecuador to say we are going to have a simple game tomorrow," he said.

Ecuador, who are second in Group E, will be seeking to beat France as they try to see off the challenge for the second qualifying spot from Switzerland, who trail them only on goal difference, and Honduras.

If France finish top of Group E, they are likely to avoid Group F leaders Argentina and will probably face either Nigeria or Iran in the round of 16.

But Deschamps said it was not certain that Argentina would still be top of their group after their match on Wednesday against Nigeria who are two points behind them.

"We will take on whichever adversary we have to," he said.

"As things stand today, it's not Argentina. We will see tomorrow." (Editing by Ed Osmond)

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