Yohan Cabaye warns France must stay humble to survive Germany showdown

• Antoine Griezmann set to replace Olivier Giroud in Rio
• Didier Deschamps praises Pogba for display against Nigeria

Yohan Cabaye has warned France they will be on the first plane out of Brazil if they get carried away with their own success before Friday’s quarter-final against Germany in Rio. The Paris Saint-Germain midfielder said his team-mates need to “stay humble and not arrogant”, and also play at the same high tempo, to give themselves the best possible opportunity of reaching the World Cup semi-finals.

In a fascinating tie that will evoke memories of the epic World Cup semi-final between the two nations in 1982, when West Germany’s victory on penalties was overshadowed by Toni Schumacher’s shocking foul on Patrick Battiston, France will fancy their chances of causing an upset after scoring 10 times and conceding only once en route to the last eight.

Confidence is high after Monday’s 2-0 victory over Nigeria in Brasília, when a header from Paul Pogba and an own goal by Joseph Yobo took France through. Even before that game some of the France players had talked about winning the World Cup - Bacary Sagna said it would be “a failure” if Les Bleus come home without the trophy - but Cabaye believes that now is the time to be grounded.

“Hopefully, hopefully,” said Cabaye, when asked about France’s prospects of reaching another World Cup final after 1998 and 2006. “There is still far to go. We have to enjoy it. We can say we are in the last eight and that is good - but we have to stay humble and not arrogant. If we start to play more easier and relaxed we are going to be getting back to France straight away. So we are confident but focused and we want to stay for as long as possible in Brazil.”

Antoine Griezmann seems certain to start against Germany in place of Olivier Giroud after the Real Sociedad winger’s impressive performance from the substitutes’ bench against Nigeria. As well as injecting pace on the left flank, Griezmann allowed Karim Benzema to play through the middle, giving France the penetration they had been lacking and shifting the balance of the game in their favour. “I think mentally we kept going, we found a way and maybe when Griezmann came on it changed things for us,” Cabaye said. “We didn’t lose belief.”

It was also a day when Paul Pogba silenced some of his critics. The Juventus midfielder has received unfavourable coverage in the French media after his displays in the group stage, with Didier Deschamps asked about the 21-year-old’s indifferent form in the lead-up to the Nigeria match.

The France manager defended Pogba and was rewarded with a goal and a man-of-the-match performance. “He’s young, I think it’s normal that he’s been criticised, it’s part of a high-level footballer’s life,” Deschamps said of the Juventus midfielder. “Sometimes it’s unfair, but I think it will toughen him up a bit. He stood up [against Nigeria], showed his potential. Maybe he played a little more simply than usual, all credit to him. I did not doubt him. Apart from the goal, I want to say what a remarkable match he played. I hope he does that on a regular basis now.”

Cabaye echoed his manager’s sentiments and said that Pogba’s belief in himself has not wavered. “He deserves to be man of the match and to score because he is a very good footballer. He keeps his confidence even though he has been getting a lot of criticism. He stays relaxed, he knows the team is with him. Against Nigeria he showed what he can do on the pitch and it is the best way to give a response to those who criticise him.”

One of the driving runs from deep that Pogba made in the first half, when he sprinted upfield before exchanging passes with Mathieu Valbuena and striking a first-time volley that drew a fine save from Vincent Enyeama, the Nigeria goalkeeper, was reminiscent of Patrick Vieira in his pomp. “Fortunately for us he is like Vieira,” Cabaye said. “He is very important for the team - dynamic, and we just enjoy playing together with him. That unity is the best way for us to progress as far as we can.”

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