Striker Olivier Giroud says France players ready to ‘die’ for cause against Ukraine
No team have recovered from a two-goal deficit in a European play-off
France coach Didier Deschamps may shake up his line-up with Samir Nasri probably being dropped after another disappointing display in blue and being replaced by Mathieu Valbuena.
France’s under-pressure players are ready to “die” for the cause as they try to qualify for the World Cup finals by overturning a two-goal deficit against Ukraine tonight, according to striker Olivier Giroud.
Les Blues are on the verge of missing a major tournament for the first time in 20 years following Friday’s 2-0 play-off, first-leg defeat in Kiev. No team have recovered from a two-goal deficit in a European play-off but Giroud says France can use the disappointment of a few days ago as extra motivation.
“We are ready to die on the pitch,” said striker Giroud. “I have a lot of determination and I think it will help us get into them,” he added.
Ukraine proved rock-solid on Friday as France, who have appeared at all major finals since missing out on Euro 1996, were well below par.
“One side played a top-level match and we played just a match, like it was an ordinary game. We took a slap in the face,” coach Didier Deschamps said, adding that his side were capable of doing much better.
“This is what the top level is. The players have it inside of them and they will have to show that on Tuesday.”
Deschamps knows his players will have to do more than simply control possession, calling for more passion. “We have to be ready for a fight, to produce a non-ordinary match.
“We have to play the ‘total match’, to give everything in every department,” he said.
Ukraine will be without defender Olexandr Kucher for the return leg after he was sent off on Friday but Giroud warned that Ukraine would be fired-up to hold on to their lead after failing three times in playoffs.
“They will replace a soldier with another soldier,” Giroud said about Kucher.
History is against France, especially as they failed to score in Kiev and will be vulnerable to counter-attacks, but Deschamps is keen to send out a positive message.
‘To be convinced’
“Believe in it or not, it’s not even a question to me. If I want the players to be convinced that we can do it, I have to be convinced first,” he said.
“To achieve something extraordinary, we have to be in that state of mind, to think that it’s possible. There’s a possibility. No matter if it’s small or great – it’s real.”
Deschamps could change his starting line-up with Samir Nasri probably being dropped after another disappointing display in blue and being replaced by Mathieu Valbuena.
With Laurent Koscielny suspended after his red card, Liverpool centre back Mamadou Sakho could start alongside Eric Abidal unless Raphael Varane has recovered from a knee niggle.
Ukraine will be without Kucher and left-back Artem Fedetskyi who is also suspended. Shakhtar defender Yaroslav Rakitskyi is expected to replace Kucher while winger Oleh Gusyev could play at left back.