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France fear Portugal tie in World Cup play-offs

AFP/The Local · 16 Oct 2013, 08:34

Published: 16 Oct 2013 08:34 GMT+02:00

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France coach Didier Deschamps admitted Portugal were the team to avoid in the European zone World Cup qualifying play-offs ahead of Monday's draw.

France were already assured of their place even before Tuesday's 3-0 final Group I victory over Finland at the Stade de France.

They still retained a faint hope of snatching top spot but that would have needed Spain to lose at home to Georgia, something that never looked likely.

Due to their FIFA ranking, France will not even be seeded in the draw, meaning Portugal, Greece, Croatia and Ukraine are their potential opponents.

Asked if there was anyone he'd like to avoid, Deschamps said: "It's legitimate to say Portugal because they have Cristiano Ronaldo, who's a great player and a big influence.

"But playing Greece, Croatia or Ukraine, they're more collective but not easier or simpler to play.

"Of course, I know some better than others but I haven't started analysing our future opponents."

Deschamps couldn't help but grumble about the seeding system which has denied his team the potentially easier draws against Iceland, Romania or Sweden.

France were in the only five-team group in qualifying, meaning they had two fewer games than the other second placed finishers in which to gain ranking points that could have made them seeded.

"We missed out on being seeded by one point to Ukraine, we've been a bit penalised but we'll take the opponent we draw," said the former Marseille, Monaco and Juventus coach.

"It's (FIFA) who decide, so they'll decide. We've expressed our point of view that it's a bit unfair being in a group of five and having two matches less. We don't get the points that we need for the FIFA ranking."

Looking at the positives from their victory over Finland, Deschamps said the team had left off from their previous match with Australia, a 6-0 friendly thrashing on Friday, and the second half of their qualifier with Belarus last month that saw them score four goals to turn a 1-0 half-time deficit into a 4-2 win.

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"That's what we looked for in scoring three goals, even if we could've scored more as we hit the bar and post," he said.

"The score could have been more severe, even though in the first half they got behind us twice and they had a good chance at the start of the second.

"Although when you attack it leaves space for opponents, we mostly carried on from where we left off on Friday in terms of our play, our mobility, speed; we did many good things, created good situations, we had a good collective."

QUALIFIERS: The list of qualifiers for 2014 World Cup European Zone two-legged play-offs, to be played on November 15 and 19, after final round of qualifying group matches on Tuesday (four seeds to be decided by latest FIFA rankings released on Thursday): Portugal, Croatia, Greece, Ukraine, Sweden, Romania, Iceland, France.

AFP/The Local (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

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