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 By Ian Holyman

Benzema believes in France

Karim Benzema believes France "can do something extraordinary" at the World Cup following their opening-game defeat of Honduras.

Benzema, 26, scored twice and saw a shot ricochet in off Honduran goalkeeper Noel Valladares for Les Bleus' other goal in Porto Alegre as Didier Deschamps' men got their Group E campaign off to a convincing start.

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Having maintained the momentum created by their dramatic overcoming of Ukraine in November's play-off to claim a place in Brazil, and the torment of the last two international tournaments now a thing of the past, the 1998 World Cup winners are a force to be reckoned with, Benzema told media at the team's base camp in Ribeirao Preto.

"It's a new team, a new era. A team full of talent. We can do something extraordinary during this World Cup."

Benzema's own form will have a significant bearing on how the squad fare in South America. The Real Madrid forward has now struck six goals in his last four international appearances, a hot streak in stark contrast to the 16-month drought he endured for his country between June 2012 and October last year, which left his place in the starting XI in jeopardy.

Karim Benzema has been France's best player in the World Cup.
Karim Benzema has now scored six goals in his last four appearances for France.

"I don't know if it did me good or not, but it's certain that I was having a bad spell. It needed to change. At that time, there were other strikers who were in form and scoring goals. But I continued to work, and I talked to the national team coach. I was the first to acknowledge that I wasn't in peak form."

He has now struck a rich vein, seeing off the challenge of Arsenal's Olivier Giroud to become Deschamps' first-choice for the central striking role in the former France captain's preferred 4-3-3 formation.

"Karim is on a very good run. It's great for him and the team. He's in full possession of his powers. You only have to look at his face: he's happy and thriving. That's very important for both him and the squad," Deschamps, 45, explained following his team's victory -- but added that with games against Switzerland and Ecuador remaining, he would ensure no-one was getting carried away.

"After the game, there was satisfaction to have stood up and been counted, and to have played a very good first match, but there was no euphoria. On the contrary, it's just a step. The second will come along very quickly as it's on Friday. If I have to, I will step in. It's important to have garnered confidence, but let's keep cool heads."

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