Ukraine and France will kick off their two-leg playoff on Nov. 15 in Kyiv, Ukraine with a trip to the World Cup on the line.
France will host the second leg on Nov. 19, and the team that wins on aggregate will advance to Brazil.
It is surprising that France is even in this position. Les Bleus have the talent to avoid it.
Didier Deschamps has the likes of Hugo Lloris, Raphael Varane, Paul Pogba and Karim Benzema at his disposal. However, France finished second to Spain in Group I and now must win this playoff to make the trip to Brazil.
Ukraine finished runners-up to England in Group H by just one point and now finds itself in this playoff. It is not an unfamiliar position for Ukraine.
Ukraine has missed out on three World Cups since 1998 by way of playoff defeat.
These two nations have met twice since 2011. France has won both contests. The first came in 4-1 fashion in a friendly on June 6, 2011. The second came at the UEFA European Championship last year when France prevailed, 2-0.
When: Nov. 15 at 2:45 p.m. ET/6:45 p.m. GMT
Where: Olimpiysky Stadium, Kyiv, Ukraine
TV Coverage: TV5Monde (check here for more international coverage)
Live Stream: ESPN3
Key Storyline: Will Either Team Score?
While France is understandably favored to win this playoff, goals are going to be tough to come by. That is especially true in the first match in Ukraine.
The recent defensive prowess of both sides is intimidating. Ukraine has kept seven clean sheets in a row, and France has not conceded a goal in any of its last five fixtures.
However, France's attack has sprung to life as of late. The French scored a combined seven goals in their last two World Cup qualifiers and have scored 13 goals in their last three matches in all play.
Meanwhile, Ukraine prefers a possession approach that is not ripe for a lot of goals.
Ukraine has netted 18 goals in its last four matches (all World Cup qualifiers). However, in the two matches that weren't against San Marino, Ukraine has just one combined goal.
Prediction: France 1, Ukraine 0
Ukraine's patient style will help it keep the score down, but it will also not create enough chances for Ukraine to crack France's stingy back line.
Meanwhile, France has been finding a fluidity on its attack that will allow the French to create one goal. And while that is just one goal, it will loom largely as this playoff heads to France.
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