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France seek perfect blend to topple Ukraine

France's national soccer team head coach Didier Deschamps attends a news conference at Stade de France's stadium in Saint-Denis, near Paris
France's national soccer team head coach Didier Deschamps attends a news conference at Stade de France's stadium in Saint-Denis, near Paris

By Julien Pretot

PARIS (Reuters) - France must find the perfect blend of calm and madness to overturn a two-goal deficit in their World Cup playoff second leg against Ukraine on Tuesday, according to coach Didier Deschamps.

Les Bleus slumped to a 2-0 defeat in Kiev and face the prospect of missing out on a major tournament for the first time since they failed to qualify for the 1994 World Cup.

"We don't have time to dwell on the frustration, we need to move on," Deschamps told a news conference at the Stade de France on Monday.

"The risk is there but we must play an outstanding game. We must surpass ourselves but keep control of the match."

Captain Hugo Lloris said the team were feeling "serene" despite the two-goal deficit.

"There is not much to change in preparation," he said. "We've go our backs against the wall with a two-goal deficit. We're well aware of that."

To overturn the situation, France must produce something out of the ordinary.

"Without madness there will be no success," said Lloris.

"But we're going to have to show that we're able to play cleverly, not just go all out.

"We want revenge after the slap on the face we got in Ukraine. We'll have to leave the pitch with our heads held high knowing we gave everything. If that's the case it will mean that we're qualified," Lloris added.

One of the keys could be Franck Ribery who was very closely marked in Kiev and Deschamps urged his team to play close to the Bayern Munich winger.

"If he is closely marked, it means that there is freedom for two or three other players. So they have to be close to him," Deschamps said.

Ukraine are also expecting a frenetic game.

"I don't think it will be a calm match, it will be difficult for both sides," Ukraine coach Mikhail Fomenko told a news conference.

"How we play depends on our opponent. If they're aggressive then we will be," he added.

France will have the advantage of playing at home, although the Stade de France crowd has never been among the most enthusiastic in the country.

"We must put ourselves in the position of expecting something from them. It is our determination that will prompt them to be behind us," said Deschamps, who has not decided who will take the penalties if the tie is decided by a shootout.

Ukraine, who will be without the suspended Oleksandr Kucher and Artem Fedetskiy, will also have to make do without second-choice goalkeeper Maxym Koval who has a fever.

France will be without center back Laurent Koscielny after the Arsenal player picked up a red card in Kiev and Deschamps gave no indication as to who will play in central defence.

He is expected to pick two players from Liverpool's Mamadou Sakho, Real Madrid's Raphael Varane, who has had a knee injury, and Monaco's Eric Abidal, who struggled during the first leg.

(Editing by Ed Osmond)

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