France and Spain are locked in a tight battle for the top spot in Group I of UEFA World Cup qualifying, which ensures a trip to Brazil next summer. In order to at least keep pace, France can't afford to overlook a potentially tough test from Georgia.
With three matches left for both sides, the Blues are one point behind the defending World Cup champions. Since they have already played each other twice, France will need Spain to slip up in order to take over first place.
Most importantly, they have to take care of their own business. That continues with a clash against a Georgia side that held Spain scoreless for 85 minutes before Roberto Soldado scored a late road winner. The Crusaders will need a similar defensive effort in this match.
Let's check out all the important information for the qualifier, followed by a closer look at what France must do to earn all three points and a match prediction.
Where: Dinamo Arena in Tbilisi, Georgia
When: Friday, Sept. 6 at 2:15 p.m. ET (7:15 p.m. BST)
Watch: Sport TV1
Live Stream: ESPN3.com (Live stream only in U.S.)
Odds: France -335, Georgia +850, Draw +375 (via Bovada)
Top Storyline: Can France move one step closer to Brazil?
France had an opportunity to gain control of the group back in March when it faced Spain at home. The Blues failed to take advantage, losing 1-0 on a Pedro goal, and now the path to the World Cup is a little more difficult.
The good news for France is it has a firm grip on second place and a potential spot in the playoff round. That means the talented side can afford to take some chances against Georgia, so it can push to get all three points to keep the pressure on Spain.
As mentioned, Georgia played really strong defense when the dominant Spanish side visited Dinamo Arena earlier in the stage. So the pressure is on France's attacking group to create and capitalize on chances to avoid needing a last-gasp winner like Spain needed.
The duo of Karim Benzema and Olivier Giroud, who got off to a terrific start in the new club campaign with Arsenal, gives the Blues the necessary firepower up front. They will be supported by a strong midfield, led by Franck Ribery.
Ultimately, that should be enough for France to remain in firm control throughout the match. It all comes down to how quickly the Blues can break down Georgia's back line.
As long as France doesn't overlook Georgia, this a match it should win. No player on the Crusaders' roster has more than four goals at the international level, and they can't match the overall talent level of the French side.
Expect a close, hard-fought game for the first half. After the break, there should be enough urgency for France to turn up the offensive pressure and pull away for the victory. Anything less would be a disappointment for the Blues.
France 2, Georgia 0