France vs. Ukraine: What's Next for Each National Team After Epic Playoff

Steven CookFeatured Columnist IVNovember 20, 2013

PARIS, FRANCE - NOVEMBER 19:  Olivier Giroud of France is tackled by Oleg Guslev of Ukraine during the FIFA 2014 World Cup Qualifier 2nd Leg Playoff between France and Ukraine at the Stade de France on November 19, 2013 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Harry Engels/Getty Images)
Harry Engels/Getty Images

France vs. Ukraine was a tale of two legs, which culminated in Les Bleus mounting a stunning comeback. Entering Tuesday down two goals, France won 3-0 and advanced to the World Cup on 3-2 aggregate.

After these two teams went toe to toe for two full matches and found two contrasting results, France came out on top with a fair amount of fortune on their side to punch their ticket to Brazil.

With two evenly matched teams competing for just one spot, there was sure to be despair for whichever side missed out. But Ukraine will have to pick up the pieces and look toward a brighter future.

Meanwhile, France can exhale knowing they made it into the exclusive field, but plenty of work lies ahead for them to be anywhere near contending status by next summer.

Here's what is upcoming for both France and Ukraine. 



PARIS, FRANCE - NOVEMBER 19:  Mamadou Sakho of France celebrates after winning the FIFA 2014 World Cup Qualifier Play-off second leg match between France and Ukraine at the Stade de France on November 19, 2013 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Gett
Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

What a result.

Entrenched in a half-decade-long rough patch, France could ill afford another slip-up and especially one as brutal as missing out on the World Cup entirely. And somehow, some way, they rattled off three goals—well, two and a Ukraine own goal—to avoid that catastrophic result.

France's players and coaches will soon be done celebrating their average—by French standards—feat, and reality will kick in that they have a lot of questions to answer and problems to fix before next summer.

Will Olivier Giroud bring his excellent form with him from England and be the force up top that France need him to be? Can Franck Ribery still run the show on offense? Will Samir Nasri even show up? France have more problems than that, but the fact that that's just the beginning tells you all you need to know. 

France have limped into their international affairs in recent years, and it hasn't paid off. The embarrassing 2010 World Cup no-show was followed by squeaking out of their 2012 Euro group with a 1-1-1 record before being shut out by Spain. 

Although the problems are many, Les Bleus have plenty of time between now and Brazil and may very well take advantage of that in order to improve upon their recent shortcomings. 



PARIS, FRANCE - NOVEMBER 19:  Andrii Iarmolenko of the Ukraine sits on the pitch dejected after losing the FIFA 2014 World Cup Qualifier Play-off second leg match between France and Ukraine at the Stade de France on November 19, 2013 in Paris, France.  (P
Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

Once they can wipe away the agony and pain from this unlikely defeat, Ukraine will see plenty of promise ahead moving toward 2016 Euro qualification.

It takes time to get over missing out on a World Cup, when teams spend years playing toward that goal and suddenly find it slip out of their reach in a matter of minutes. After giving up a two-goal lead, that feeling must only be amplified for Ukraine.

Missing out on Brazil may be the last national team chapter for Anatoliy Tymoshchuk, as the 34-year-old is reaching the twilight of his career. But he passes the torch to a couple of promising youngsters. 

Andriy Yarmolenko is only a 24-year-old and already ascended as a national icon, and he'll lead Ukraine into qualification rounds for the 2016 Euro. Joining Yarmolenko in the front is Yevhen Konoplyanka, who is also coming into his own entering his prime years. 

Entering 2016 Euro, the team looks to avenge a poor result from their 2012 appearance. After opening up with a win over Sweden, Ukraine was toppled by England and France and consequentially bounced in the group stage.