France know no matter what they do on Tuesday night in Paris, that elusive word called destiny is not in their hands. All Spain, the world and European champions, need to do is pick up a draw in their final 2014 World Cup qualifier against Georgia, and France will find themselves having to book their trip to Brazil via the playoffs.
France midfielders Franck Ribery (L) and Samir Nasri during a training session ahead of their World Cup qualifier against Finland, October 14
Didier Deschamps' men were unlucky to be drawn with powerhouses Spain in the same group and with the form that the latter have shown over the past six years or so, a playoff was almost inevitable for Les Blues.
Having said that, though, France will still be keen to ensure they do their own job on Tuesday night - defeat Finland, who are out of contention to qualify for Brazil with just nine points from seven matches, convincingly.
France are currently three points behind Spain in Group I with one match each remaining for the top two. Spain have a +3 advantage in goal difference as well, making France's task near impossible.
"I always prepare a France side to win, whatever the match," Deschamps said. "But one has to be realistic, today there are strong possibilities that we will be in the playoffs.
"The Spanish have their destiny in their own hands, it doesn't depend on us.
"With regard to the playoffs I could say that every one of the teams are to be avoided but if it is either Portugal or Sweden I will be afraid as they have great individual players like Cristiano Ronaldo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic."
The French are likely to be unseeded in the playoffs owing to fewer ranking points. The 1998 World Cup champions are not happy with that aspect owing to the fact that they have had fewer chances to improve their ranking points with their group consisting of only five teams, to the other groups' six.
"We're going to contact Fifa," French Federation's president Noel Le Graet told the radio station RMC. "There is a little injustice between the group of five and the groups of six. Our rivals from other groups have been able to score more points... That's a fact."
France do have a few good things going for them, however, after thrashing Australia 6-0 in an international friendly last week. Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud grabbed himself a brace, while Karim Benzema ended a 16-month goal drought for his country and Deschamps will be expecting his forward line to fire on all cylinders in Paris.
Where to watch
The game is set for a 12.30 a.m. (IST, Wednesday) start with no live telecast scheduled.
Expected lineups: France: Lloris; Debuchy, Sakho, Evra; Pogba, Cabaye; Remy, Nasri, Ribery; Giroud.
Finland: Maenpaa; Halsti, Arkivuo, Lampi, Ring; Hamalainen, Hetemaj, Eremenko, Tainio; Pukki, Zenel.
Prediction: 3-0 to France
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