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FIFA World Cup Qualifying Preview: Belarus v France

SoccerNews in World Cup 8 Sep 2013

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France’s hopes of automatic qualification for the FIFA World Cup hang by a thread heading into Tuesday’s match in Belarus.

Didier Deschamps’ men drew 0-0 with Georgia on Friday and, with Spain winning in Finland, they now trail the Group I leaders by three points with just two games left to play.

Goals have proven hard to come by for the French in recent matches, with Les Bleus having drawn a blank in their last five outings.

The stalemate in Tbilisi underlined their woes in front of goal, with Olivier Giroud and Karim Benzema both guilty of wasting the kind of opportunities that they have been putting away for their club sides.

France do at least have the comfort of a five-point gap over the third-placed Finns, which should ensure that they claim a play-off spot as a minimum.

Deschamps and his team have come under fire from the French press, with claims that this could be the worst side in the nation’s rich football history.

However, the manager, who captained France to World Cup success on home soil in 1998, was keen to avoid any comparisons.

“I could never say this is one of the worst teams in French history,” he said. “I do not compare generations.

“Is it a problem of inefficiency or poor talent? Who can evaluate? Players score for their clubs when selected but not for us, though. We have players who lack experience

“I will make choices for the good of the team. I still have some solutions but do not have a miracle cure.

“Spain had fewer opportunities than we did here in Georgia in May but they won 1-0 in the 86th minute. I have two eyes to see. I am in the analysis.

“I have not decided who will play in Belarus but I will make choices for the good of the team. We are lacking in efficiency. We need to improve this aspect.”

The Belarusians, however, know only too well the threat their visitors can offer when they are on form.

An altogether more cohesive France outfit ran out comfortable 3-1 winners when the two nations met last September, and coach Georgi Kondratiev expects a difficult match.

“France are now much stronger than the team that we were able to beat (1-0 in 2010),” he said. “They have a strong team of excellent players. This is one of the best teams in the world.

“Their attack is very impressive. I’m really impressed by (Franck) Ribery and (Mathieu) Valbuena. They are everywhere, they never stop. It will be very hard against them on Tuesday.”

Belarus sit bottom of the group, with just one win and one draw from their six games.

They can still finish as high as third, though, and that will be their target for the remaining two games.

After the visit of France, they head to group leaders Spain to complete their qualifying campaign.

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