France midfielder Yohan Cabaye has hailed coach Didier Deschamps as the driving force behind their excellent FIFA World Cup campaign so far.
Four years ago in South Africa, France exited the tournament at the group stage after registering just one goal and one point, while they only just snuck through UEFA qualifying for Brazil 2014 in a play-off against Ukraine.
In Brazil, however, France have looked lethal in attack and - apart from the final 10 minutes of their match against Switzerland - miserly in defence.
Cabaye, who started the games against Honduras and Switzerland, believes Deschamps deserves plenty of credit for the way France have performed.
"He gave us his confidence. He managed to create a group of players who get along very well, on the pitch and outside," the Paris Saint-Germain midfielder said.
"He brings his quality of coach and a tactician. The group is living very well and he is largely responsible of that."
Deschamps replaced Laurent Blanc when the team was at a particularly low ebb.
The poor performance on the field and dressing-room infighting of South Africa under Raymond Domenech was followed by a quarter-final exit at Euro 2012, where Blanc's ultra-defensive side failed to resist eventual champions Spain.
While Deschamps only narrowly guided France past Ukraine 3-2 on aggregate in their World Cup play-off, the former Marseille boss has turned his team into an attacking juggernaut in the past year.
A 4-2 defeat of Belarus in September started a run of nine wins in 11 games, with France scoring on average over 3.5 goals per match.
Their most recent win in that streak was the 5-2 demolition of Switzerland in Salvador last week and Deschamps has warned his players they cannot afford to slow down versus Ecuador in Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday.
"It's not a game without pressure. It's a game at the World Cup," the 45-year-old said.
"Obviously, we play this third game with six points. We will not complain but our opponent will play for their qualification and it's a team with qualities.
"We don't have to trivialise the game. We have to carry on exactly as we have done until now."
Cabaye will miss the match at the Maracana through suspension after picking up a yellow card against Honduras and Switzerland, while France can ensure they reach the round of 16 with a draw.
|Coach: R. Rueda|
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