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Nov 14, 2013

Deschamps: France are not 'afraid'

France manager Didier Deschamps said his players were not ‘afraid’ heading into the crucial World Cup qualifiers against Ukraine.

France were drawn against Mikhail Fomenko’s men in the European playoffs after finishing second behind Spain in Group I.

But despite failing to book their spot for the World Cup at the first time of asking, Deschamps believes his squad will travel to Ukraine for the first-leg on Friday full of confidence.

"The most important thing is that the players have confidence in themselves and they go to achieve their full potential," he said.

"Nobody is afraid. We'll play the game at hand, a qualifying match for the World Cup.

"There is excitement, not fear. That does not mean we should forget that the Ukrainians also want to go to this World Cup and they can cause us problems.

"I have no negative thoughts, pressure or tension. It would go against what I ask my players. If I ask them to be quiet, but I have beads of sweat falling from my brow, they will not believe in me.

"There's no reason to be tense. There's something at stake, we're focussed on our objective. We have to be ready at 20:45 tomorrow, and there's no reason to imagine things beforehand."

However, Deschamps is not without his problems, with Real Madrid defender Raphael Varane suffering from a knee problem and Marseille attacker Mathieu Valbuena in a run of poor form.

But Deschamps is confident Valbuena will provide him with an option against Ukraine.

"It's up to you to talk about a lack of form. If I've taken him, it's because I think he's sufficiently in form. There's a choice of system and a choice of players in terms of the match, and I count on him as much as the 23 other player,” Deschamps said.

Meanwhile, France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris believes the games against Ukraine have a different feel than the 2009 playoff games against Ireland.

France secured their spot at the 2010 World Cup in controversial circumstances after a blatant Thierry Henry handball led to the Irish being knocked out. 

On the Ireland games, Lloris said: "I don't remember much about the context at the time. When you're a player, you're focussed on the objective. Everyone's dreaming of the World Cup, there's one final hurdle. It's a different opponent to Ireland with a very different France team. We hope to put in a good display, and make the French proud of us."

"We're not calculating anything. There's a match to prepare. We play all of them to win, we'll see how the game goes. We expect to have to put in a lot of effort."

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