Skip to main content

FIFA World Cup Play-Off: France v Ukraine

Didier Deschamps' men stand on the precipice of elimination following their 2-0 defeat in the first leg in Kiev on Friday.

France have been present at each of the last four World Cups since their failure to reach the 1994 tournament in the United States, and won the 1998 competition on home soil.

But they now face the prospect of missing out on next year's finals in Brazil, and will have to attempt an unlikely comeback at the Stade de France on Tuesday without defender Laurent Koscielny, who was sent off in the first-leg loss.

Real Madrid centre-back Raphael Varane could take Koscielny's place at the back after Deschamps revealed that the 20-year-old has made a speedy recovery from a knee injury.

Ukraine's clean sheet in the first leg was their eighth on the spin, but Deschamps is hopeful his side can break down the visitors' stout defence in Paris while also warning his players of their threat on the counter. 

"What awaits us on Tuesday is the possibility to turn the tide," he told TF1.

"We must apply pressure, but also be aware that they will not keep 10 players behind the ball.

"They will not come to defend. It will require total football and that we maintain a high tempo from beginning to end."

Ukraine have made just one appearance at the World Cup finals in their history, which came in 2006 when they reached the quarter-finals.

Mikhail Fomenko's side will be without defender Oleksandr Kucher for the game following his dismissal in injury time on Friday, but they should be confident of finishing the job following a qualification campaign that has seen them lose just one game.

Andriy Yarmolenko scored Ukraine's second goal from the penalty spot in the first leg, but the Dynamo Kiev winger has urged caution ahead of their trip to Paris, despite their commanding advantage.

"This result (2-0) should be treated calmly," he said.

"We have only played the first match - there is still a game to be played in France. That will be tougher. We must play with confidence."