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France face watching 2014 World Cup on the telly

The odds on France’s chances of winning the 2014 World Cup slipped to an even longer price than England’s following their 2-0 defeat to Ukraine in the first leg of their play-off.

France are now available at odds of 50/1 to win the trophy in Rio next summer. Ukraine, although fancied to make the 2014 World Cup finals, are currently 200/1 to win the tournament.

France, who are no strangers to qualification catastrophe (many French football supporters have still not come to terms with failing to qualify for USA 94 by losing to Israel and Bulgaria at home) will now be fearing another World Cup finals without Les Bleus in the cast.

To make the task in the return leg against Ukraine just that little bit tougher, they also had Laurent Koscielny sent off for failing to control his frustration. He had earlier given away a penalty for Ukraine’s second goal, and will now miss the second leg.

In spite of their huge reserves of talent, including Ballon d’Or shortlister Franck Ribery, France are only ranked 21st in the World, one rung beneath their opponents on Tuesday, and don’t currently have a formidable reputation at home.

Although they have thrashed Australia and Finland without conceding in friendlies in recent months, they have also lost at home to Germany and Spain this year, and a little over 12 months ago were beaten in Paris by Japan.

Ukraine have also built up a tremendous head of steam over the last 12 months and go into the second leg in Paris with confidence sky high.

They last conceded a goal in a 2-1 victory at home to Moldova, eight games ago. During that time they have won seven and drawn one, scoring 26 goals in the process (although 17 came against San Marino).

They last lost 13 games ago, in a qualifier in Montenegro last autumn, and they last lost by more than two goals in 2011, when they were beaten 4-0 by the Czech Republic.

They were, however, beaten 2-0 by France in Donetsk in the group stage of the 2012 Euros. The same result would at least earn France some extra time.

Republic of Ireland fans will remember only too well just how the French grasped the opportunity with one hand the last time they were given another half hour to prove they were worth a place in a big tournament finals.