France v Ukraine: 'We cannot afford to concede a goal,' says Les Bleus' midfielder Blaise Matuidi

Ukraine lead 2-0 from the first leg of the World Cup play-off

France will have the defy the odds - and the expectations of their own supporters - to book a ticket to the World Cup in Brazil.

Les Bleus go into the second leg of their qualifier against Ukraine on Tuesday night trailing 2-0 after a dismal showing in Kiev last week, a performance which persuaded 60 per cent of respondents France were unlikely to qualify according to a poll conducted by sports daily L'Equipe.

Paris St Germain midfielder Blaise Matuidi told the French Football Federation's official website: "For most of us, it is the most important game in our careers.

"We all want to show something different to what we did on Friday. We have to be stronger in the battles and improve our technical quality.

"We have to play with heart, with guts, but with the head as well. We have to score but we cannot afford to let in a goal.

"We know we have the talent to do it but we have to show pride and passion."

Ukraine lead courtesy of goals from Roman Zozulya and Andriy Yarmolenko, and the clean sheet last week was their eighth in a row, a national record for which goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov was quick to share the credit with his defenders.

Pyatov told the Football Federation of Ukraine's website: "The guys have been great. This sequence was possible due to their efforts.

"When the goalkeeper is not beaten, the team has a better chance of winning. For me the main thing is the result of the team.

"It is more important to go to Brazil than to set records."

Portugal will take a 1-0 lead to Stockholm to face Sweden in round two of the clash between two of the world's best forwards.

Cristiano Ronaldo's diving header gave Portugal their slender lead, but Sweden have spent the week working on ways to get better service to Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Midfielder Sebastian Larsson said: "We cannot go out all guns blazing but we must have a more attacking game with more ball higher up the pitch, then we will get Zlatan more in the game."

Conditions could also favour Sweden with temperatures close to zero forecast and a less than optimum playing surface.

"Portugal have a small advantage, and we are expecting a very difficult game, but we are ready," said Ronaldo.

"We will have to be fully focused. More than anything else, these players want to be in Brazil, so we will give our best to get there."

Croatia were held to a 0-0 draw by Iceland in Reykjavik, but coach Niko Kovac is confident the game will go his side's way on home soil.

"The impression remains that we are the better team and have a better overall repertoire," he said. "They play very simple football with a lot of vertical switching and that's always risky.

"I am confident that we will repeat our dominant display in Zagreb and will ultimately get to Brazil."

Greece are strong favourites against Romania after winning 3-1 in Athens, but Portuguese coach Fernando Santos will be taking nothing for granted.

"Although we are ahead in the tie we still need to go to Romania with a focused mindset as everything will be decided then," he said after the first leg.

"Nothing is over yet."

Arts and Entertainment
TVShow's twee, safe facade smashed by ice cream melting scandal
News
newsVideo for No campaign was meant to get women voting
Sport
Wayne Rooney talks to the media during a press conference
sport
Arts and Entertainment
tv
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates after scoring his first goal for Arsenal in the Champions League qualifier against Besiktas
sportChilean's first goal for the club secures place in draw for Champions League group stages
News
i100
News
Down time: an employee of Google uses the slide to get to the canteen
scienceBosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder
Arts and Entertainment
Amis: 'The racial situation in the US is as bad as it’s been since the Civil War'
booksAuthor says he might come back across Atlantic after all
Extras
indybest
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

A tale of two writers

Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

Should pupils get a lie in?

Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

Prepare for Jewish jokes...

... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

A dream come true for SJ Watson

Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
10 best cycling bags for commuters

10 best cycling bags for commuters

Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

Paul Scholes column

Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?