Another start for Mamadou Sakho--this time alongside Laurent Koscielny rather than Raphael Varane--in France's final group stage match, which ended 0-0 and saw France progress as Group E winners. Both sides had a few chances in the first half, with Paul Pogba's header tipped over at one end and Enner Valencia denied at close range at the other. Antoine Griezmann nearly put France ahead in the opening minutes of the second half, and moments later Antonio Valencia was sent off for a nasty challenge on Lucas Digne. With Xherdan Shaqiri notching a hat-trick in Switzerland's 3-0 win over Honduras, it means that the French will be joined by Shaqiri's Swiss side in the knockout round.
Sakho was again among France's best on the day for his sixty minutes on the pitch, impressing in the challenge and composed with the ball at his feet. He and Koscielny didn't take much time to get on the same page, with only a few nervy moments cause by the Ecuador attack. Sakho looked to be at or close to full fitness despite being taken off at the hour mark (which looked to be prearranged and precautionary), and should be a mainstay for as long as France stay alive in Brazil. And then for about the next six years or so, too.
France will play Nigeria, who finished second in Group F, on Monday, June 30th.