Patrice Evra has insisted that France always knew they would find the Republic of Ireland a tough opponent in their last-16 clash at Euro 2016.
The hosts fell behind to a second-minute penalty from Robbie Brady in Lyon, before eventually fighting back to win 2-1 thanks to a brace from Antoine Griezmann.
And though the French appeared rattled by Ireland’s impressive first-half performance, Evra claims that they fully expected a challenging game.
“It was difficult, but we know that,” he told ITV. “No one game is easy in this tournament.
“Last night, people said that Croatia would win easily against Portugal, but, to be fair, I knew it would be difficult today.”
The Juventus defender repeated that stance as he refused to acknowledge a potential meeting with England in the next round.
Evra spent almost nine years playing in the Premier League with Manchester United, but he reinforced that the Three Lions still have to beat Iceland to set up “a special game”.
“It’s going to be a tough game, but, like I say, we should stop saying it probably will be England,” he added.
“Just wait – they are playing against Iceland. Every game is difficult.
“But of course, if we play against England, for me, it will be a special game.
“I always say thanks to the English people, to English football, because I have some great memories with Manchester United. I played for nine years over there, and for me it will be special.”
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