Having lost 2-0 in Kiev in the first leg, France vs. Ukraine looks to a tie all but settled unless Didier Deschamps' team can suddenly find some steel and produce pure inspiration to overturn the deficit in Paris.
The game takes place Tuesday, Nov. 19 at the Stade de France, the stadium in which France's diminutive playmaker Mathieu Valbuena was booed by his own fans back in October as reported by 101GreatGoals.com, purely for being a Marseille player.
Below are the key match details, including a brief preview of the potential match-winners, result prediction and information on how to stream or watch the game live online or on the TV.
France vs. Ukraine
0-2 on aggregate after the first leg
Venue: Stade de France, Paris
Date: Tuesday, Nov. 19
Time: 8 p.m. GMT
Live stream information
ESPN 3 users can stream and watch the action online at 8 p.m. GMT. An active subscription is required. Click here for more details.
Players to watch
Olivier Giroud has been one of the players to make a major impact on Arsenal's start to the season, but he was largely anonymous against Ukraine.
By contrast, Karim Benzema was brought on in the second half and looked far more comfortable and dangerous even though he failed to help France get on the scoresheet.
The Real Madrid star is a better individual footballer than the Arsenal man but can sometimes go missing and fail to make chances pay.
He may be given the opportunity to lead the line in France's home response to their 2-0 away defeat, and with Les Bleus needing at least three goals to ensure they make it through to Brazil without penalties, Benzema must put in a world-class performance of goals, assists and more.
The winger who terrorised the French in Kiev will be looking to help his team score an away goal to virtually wipe out any chance of a dramatic turnaround in Paris.
Once again likely to be paired up against Mathieu Debuchy, the Dnipro wide man will seek to destroy the Newcastle United full-back once more, just as he did during the first leg.
With multiple rumours of interest in the Ukrainian from the Premier League's biggest clubs—including Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur, according to Adrian Kajumba of The Daily Star—this would also be another great opportunity for Yevhen Konoplyanka to further boost his profile.
His nation's progression to Brazil 2014 will come before any personal promotion efforts however, and with France set to try and push their high-class attackers forward in search of the goals they need, Konoplyanka will be on hand to try and flay them on the counter.
Another player who will be key to Ukraine's game plan of striking France on the counter in Paris will be Dynamo Kiev winger Andriy Yarmolenko, who will sweep down the opposite flank to Konoplyanka to wreak havoc against Patrice Evra.
No team has ever comeback from a 2-0 first leg defeat in World Cup playoff history, yet even so, an away goal would be incredibly valuable to head coach Mykhaylo Fomenko and his team. Yarmolenko could be the player to produce one.
Just 24, he is already his country's third highest scorer of all time with 14 goals in 37 games—not a bad goals-to-game ratio for any international player.
Whether he's providing the cross, the pass or the assist to hand Ukraine an opening or hitting the net himself, Yarmolenko will be a danger man for France and a potential match-winner for the visitors.
Mamadou Sakho or Raphael Varane
With Laurent Koscielny suspended for the return leg following his sending off in Kiev, one of Mamadou Sakho or Raphael Varane will need to step into the Arsenal defender's shoes as France seek to overturn the aggregate score.
Sakho is the more experienced player at this level with 15 caps, while Varane, with just three, is the bigger talent, having impressed during his time in Madrid with Real.
The 20-year-old was a central figure in Jose Mourinho's side during his last year at the Bernabeu and produced a compelling defensive display to deny Sir Alex Ferguson of an adventure deep into the Champions League in his final season before retirement.
Meanwhile, his rival for the vacant centre-back slot, former Paris Saint-Germain prodigy turned Liverpool star, Sakho, is arguably a more physically imposing player, and that may turn Deschamps head as he seeks the strength to bully Ukraine into submission.
Regardless of who the manager plumps for, it's unlikely they can do as poor a job as Koscielny in Kiev.
If France do miss out on Brazil, fans and pundits alike may well look upon the defender as a ready-made scapegoat for the team's failure to qualify for the 2014 World Cup.
France 2-1 Ukraine (Ukraine to advance 3-2 on aggregate)
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