A two legged encounter provides for the fact, that should the scores remain level after 180 minutes of football away goals will be taken into account. Didier Deschamps’ quest of securing a place for the French national side into the World Cup to be held in Brazil next year could have been much more trickier had the Blues been drawn against Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal, however the 1998 World Cup winners have been handed a relatively easier tie but should take nothing for granted at this stage.
Les Blues finished second in Group I, three points behind World and European champions Spain and despite of just losing once in the eight matches they played in the World Cup Qualification group stages, Les Tricolores were denied an automatic qualification to the tournament.
With France’s place in the World Cup 2014 still a doubt, manager Didier Deschamps has come under intense scrutiny with rumours circulating that the French Football Association will relieve the French tactician of his duties, should he fail to lead his side to a place in the World Cup. However the 45 year old has responded with anger to such claims and has lamented such stories as being ‘pathetic’.
"I will use the same word as the [FFF] president used about this article: pathetic," the 45-year-old said.
"It is unpleasant, but I do not care.”
"The president was very unhappy. We are not obliged to respond to things unfounded or defamatory."
France will be looking for their talismanic winger Franck Ribery to make the difference as the two teams take field on Friday. The 30 year old is a firm favourite for the Ballon D’or award having already won the UEFA best player award earlier this year.
The Frenchman was instrumental in Bayern’s treble winning campaign last season and has continued from where he left off having already scored seven goals for his club and assisting six this term.
Apart from Ribery who has easily been the best out of the crop, France have other players who have been the stand out performers for their respective clubs. All of Hugo Lloris, Mathieu Debuchy, Laurent Koscielny, Paul Pogba and Loic Remy have been exceptional for their respective clubs and will be strong contenders for a place in the starting eleven.
Ukraine on the other hand can be considered equally unlucky having to participate in a play off for a World Cup 2014 berth, having fared so well in the WCQ campaign. Mykhaylo Fomenko’s men finished just a single point behind leaders England. Their only loss was a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Montenegro at the Olympic Stadium and the players will surely have that at the back of their minds when they take on a very strong French side.
It would be a colossal mistake on France’s part to take Ukraine lightly considering the attacking threat which Fomenko’s men pose. The Yellow-Blues scored 28 goals in the 10 World Cup Qualification matches they played, what was more impressive of the feat was the fact that the goals were evenly spread and Ukraine did not have to depend on a few players for goals.
Players such as Andriy Yarmolenko, Marko Devic, Roman Bezus and Yevgen Seleznov who scored 14 goals among themselves in the group stage will be a major threat to the French defence and Les Blues will have to produce an all-round solid defensive performance if they are to guarantee themselves a place in the World Cup.
Apart from being a threat offensively, Ukraine had one of the meanest defences in the group stages having just conceded four goals, but should be wary of the fact that they are yet to face a side which as attackingly potent as France.
Watch Ukraine vs France live on Friday, November 15, 2013:
In Canada at 14:45 ET on Sportsnet West
In USA at 14:45 ET on ESPN3
Fans based in France can catch the action live on TF1.
For complete details of match listings and live scores, visit the Ukraine vs France match page.