France at mercy of WC play-offs

France's chances of reaching next summer's World Cup will become clearer on Sunday when the former winners learn their play-off opponents.

Football News: France

Les Bleus are in the lower-ranked pot two for the draw, involving eight sides who finished second in their groups, meaning they will face a two-legged play-off against either Portugal, Greece, Croatia or Ukraine for a place in Brazil.

Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal appear the side to avoid, while Ukraine pushed England all the way their group and it is hard to imagine too many in France would relish a November trip to Kiev.

Greece, who were beaten to top spot by Bosnia and Herzegovina on goal difference, and Croatia, who have a new coach in Niko Kovac and finished well adrift of Belgium, appear on paper the easier options.

France, now ranked 21st in the world, finished second to Spain.

They have not failed to qualify for the World Cup since 1994, winning the competition and reaching the final since then, but boss Didier Deschamps admitted that record is under threat.

Deschamps accepted the threat of Ronaldo made Portugal the side to avoid, but added on www.20minutes.fr: "Playing against Greece, Croatia and Ukraine, who all play as teams, will be no easier or simpler."

The other three teams in pot two are Sweden, led by in-form striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Romania and Iceland, looking to qualify for the World Cup for the first time in their history.

Sweden finished second to Germany, Romania nicked the runners-up spot behind Holland and Iceland, the lowest-ranked team in the draw at 46, finished behind Switzerland.

The draw for the four play-off matches from European qualifying will take place in Zurich at 1pm.

The play-offs themselves will be played on November 15 and 19, with the first team drawn at home in the first leg. The away goals rule will apply.



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