Henry urges France to aim high at World Cup

Former striker Thierry Henry urged France to take advantage of a genuine opportunity to win the FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

France will advance to the knockout stages in Brazil with a draw against Ecuador in their final match in Group E on Wednesday, but Henry feels the squad Didier Deschamps has assembled can aim even higher than the round of 16.

Henry is the only Frenchman to have played at four World Cups and represented his country 123 times for 51 goals.

The Paris-born forward was part of France's World Cup squad that lifted the trophy at home in 1998 but he was unable to follow up that success at the next three tournaments.

Few expected France to challenge for the word title this year, with Deschamps having picked a squad with just 559 total caps - the third-lowest at the World Cup - but with Karim Benzema and Olivier Giroud in form, they look strong, having scored eight goals in their first two matches.

"This generation really does have the quality to do well and lift trophies," Henry told FIFA.com.

"I hope they do it quite quickly. When you play in a World Cup, you never know if you’ll get the chance to do it again.

"I had the opportunity to play in four, so it probably seems a bit strange to say that, but you have to approach each one as if it's your last."

While the likes of Benzema (three goals, two assists), Giroud (one goal, one assist) and Mathieu Valbuena (one goal, one assist) thriving up front, France have stormed through Group E so far.

Henry, however, reckons young central defender Raphael Varane has been just as crucial to the French campaign.

France started with a 3-0 win over Honduras and then thrashed Switzerland 5-2 and Henry has been impressed by how Varane has marshalled the defence.

"The guys in the midfield and up front are getting a lot of praise but Varane is an extraordinary player," the New York Red Bulls striker said.

"He's composed and already plays like a defender with a ten-year career under his belt. I don't think people are talking about him enough.

"It's quite unusual to be so mature at such a young age, although playing at Real Madrid has clearly helped him. We had Laurent Blanc; Varane has a similar style but with different qualities. It's pretty easy to spot a defence that has a player who remains calm no matter what."


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