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Oct 16, 2013

Nasri not scared of facing Portugal

France head coach Didier Deschamps and goalkeeper Hugo Lloris believe they are resigned to the FIFA World Cup qualification play-offs ahead of the sides' final group match with Finland.

Samir Nasri has claimed he would not be scared to face Portugal in the playoffs for the World Cup, but France coach Didier Deschamps remains wary of the threat of Cristiano Ronaldo.

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Nasri, 26, started his second successive international in France's 3-0 defeat of Finland on Tuesday, a result still not sufficient to see Les Bleus overhaul Spain at the top of Group I.

While the reigning world and European champions can already begin preparations for their title defence in Brazil next summer, France face a two-legged playoff with either Portugal, Croatia, Ukraine or Greece on Nov. 15 and 19.

Nasri suggested that though the Portuguese, who finished runners-up to Russia in Group F, appear the strongest of his nation's potential opponents, Deschamps' men should feel no apprehension if the pair are pitted against each other in Monday's draw.

He said: "I'm not afraid of Portugal. I don't think they'd be happy to play against us either. Our objective is to go to the World Cup, and if we go, it's to go as far as possible, so it'd be just as well to eliminate them now."

Portugal, who would no doubt enjoy significant support in France given their sizeable community in the Paris region in particular, have not beaten the French since 1975. However, in Ronaldo they boast one of football's most potent weapons, and Deschamps, 45 on Tuesday, is well aware the Real Madrid man's formidable qualities make the Portuguese the opponents to avoid.

He said: "It's legitimate to say Portugal because there's Cristiano Ronaldo. He's a great player, who has an important influence on the team. If it's Croatia, Greece or Ukraine, we'll be up against a collective, so it won't necessarily be easier. But I still haven't got round to analysing our opponents. We'll do that after the draw on Monday."

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