World Cup Qualification Europe - Finalnd vs Kosovo

World Cup Qualification

Football
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Published: 05/09/2016

World Cup Qualification Europe - Finalnd vs Kosovo

September 05, 2016 19:45pm - Borisov Arena

World Cup Qualification - Group A

Following a heart-breaking Euro 2016 campaign in which they came so close to glory on home soil, France will now turn their attentions to the 2018 World Cup in Russia where their qualification journey begins with a trip to Borisov to face Belarus.

France regroup after summer heartbreak

Having made it to the final of Euro 2016 on home soil only to be beaten in extra time by Portugal, the French national to team were left heartbroken and fatigued by their efforts. Last week they took to the field for the first time since that final and cruised to a 3-1 win over Italy in a friendly match in Bari. With the memories of that summer tournament now fading, France can now focus on the biggest prize of all - the FIFA World Cup.

Perhaps the biggest positive of the Euros for France was the performance of six-goal hero Antoine Griezmann. The Atletico Madrid striker has developed into a genuine world class player and will no doubt play a vital role on the road to Russia. By the time the tournament arrives, the Macon-born forward will be hitting his prime at 27 years of age.

However, qualifying will not be easy in a group that also features the Netherlands, Sweden, Bulgaria and Luxembourg. Of those teams, it will be the Netherlands that will be expected to pose the biggest threat to group domination, although judging by their friendly performance against Greece last week, the Oranje are still a long way from their best.

Failure to win the group could result in elimination for France but with eight best runners-up places available, a two-legged play-off match later next year would be the more likely outcome.

Belarus may not be a big name in World football but they have lost just one of their last eight matches in all competitions. That run included wins over Norway, Republic of Ireland, Slovakia and Luxembourg.

In addition, their Euro 2016 qualifying campaign included a narrow 1-0 defeat to Spain, a result that caused great embarrassment to Vicente del Bosque`s men who were expected to cruise to a significant win.

After dropping to 99th in the world in 2014, Belarus have now risen back up to No. 70 under the guidance of coach Aleksandr Khatskevich.

Recent form (All competitions)

Belarus: WWLDD

France: WLWWW

Betting odds and tips

France will be clear favourites but they may find it tough going against a team that is improving all the time. The last time they visited Borisov in 2013, they ran out 4-2 winners and an even closer contest can be expected here. The hosts have tightened up defensively and it may take just a single goal to settle it.

You can back France to Win to Nil at 21/20 with Bet365.

By Neil Morris

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