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Nov 13, 2013

Mathieu Valbuena dreads France failure

France midfielder Mathieu Valbuena says he cannot bear to think about missing out on a place at next summer's World Cup finals ahead of Les Bleus two-legged playoff against Ukraine.

• Deschamps: Playoff vital for France

Didier Deschamps side were handed arguably the toughest route to next summer's finals having been drawn in a qualifying group with reigning world and European champions Spain.

Having finished second, France now face Ukraine and Valbuena, 29, told RMC he does not want to consider the possibility of his nation may miss out on the World Cup for the first time since 1994.

"I don't even want to think about getting knocked out. I'm not setting out in that frame of mind, I'm not imagining that," Valbuena said. "When you come into games like this, you tell yourself you want to qualify and that we're all going to dig deep to do that. That's the sole objective."

Eden Hazard vies with France's Mathieu Valbuena
Mathieu Valbuena is desperate to reach next summer's finals in Brazil.

Marseille midfielder Valbuena played just 21 minutes of his nation's disastrous 2010 campaign in South Africa and is determined to make amends.

"It was already a dream for me to play in the World Cup four years ago. It didn't go as I had planned. But to play another one, and in Brazil, would really be a crazy dream, especially as we want to be ambitious if we go there. But we mustn't count our chickens before they hatch."

Meanwhile World Cup winner Youri Djorkaeff insists failure to reach Brazil won't be the end of France as a global football force.

Djorkaeff made his France debut just before Gerard Houllier's side crashed to a dramatic 3-2 defeat to Bulgaria in November 1993, a result which meant they watched the '94 finals in the USA at home.

Following that failure, Djorkaeff helped French football climb to the summit of the world game in 1998 and added a European Championship triumph in 2000. The former Inter Milan and Bolton Wanderers midfielder told RMC he believes Les Bleus can recover if they fail to beat Ukraine.

"There have been failures in the history of football," Djorkaeff said. "They bounced back after 1993, they bounced back from other failures. It will be another page to turn. For us, the supporters, it'll be difficult, because we want to see France at the World Cup. But for the moment, I'm quite optimistic about qualifying."

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