Preview: France vs. Kazakhstan

Preview: France vs. Kazakhstan

Reigning world champions France will aim to assure themselves of a spot in Qatar when they welcome Kazakhstan to the Parc des Princes for Saturday’s World Cup 2022 Qualifying battle.

Didier Deschamps’s side will assure themselves of a first-placed finish with all three points this weekend, while their visitors have already been consigned to a fifth-placed standing.

It has been a struggle for France to properly assert their dominance since coming up trumps in Russia three years ago, but when another shot at silverware in the Nations League presented itself, Les Bleus did not let the chance go begging.

After a thrilling semi-final victory over Belgium, the reigning world champions faced 2010 World Cup winners Spain in the showpiece event last month, where strikes from Karim Benzema and Kylian Mbappe cancelled out Mikel Oyarzabal’s opener to propel Les Bleus to glory.

Such a triumph was the ideal way for France to respond to their humiliating Euro 2020 exit, and while they have not had it all their own way in Qatar qualification, all three points will guarantee a spot in next year’s Finals.

Indeed, Deschamps’s side boast a three-point lead at the top of the rankings over Ukraine – who have played a game more – and a fourth victory from seven Qualifying games will ensure that Les Bleus cannot be caught by the chasing pack.

A pair of draws with Ukraine and another one-pointer with Bosnia-Herzegovina have raised eyebrows this year, but France welcome Kazakhstan to the capital unbeaten in 10 World Cup Qualifying games at home since defeat to Spain in 2013.

Kazakhstan’s wait for a first-ever World Cup appearance as an independent nation has unsurprisingly been extended for at least another four years, with the 125th-ranked nation already confirmed to be finishing at the bottom of the pile in Group D.

This week’s visitors to the Parc des Princes are the only team in the group who have failed to win any of their Qualifying games so far, and the chances of them rounding off their campaign with all three points at the home of Paris Saint-Germain are extremely slim to say the least.

Talgat Baysufinov’s side suffered a pair of 2-0 defeats to Bosnia and Finland last month to leave them rooted to the bottom of the rankings with three points taken from seven games, scoring a group-low five goals and conceding a group-high 12.

Two of Kazakhstan’s three points in World Cup 2022 Qualifying have come on the road in previous draws with Bosnia and Ukraine – whom they have rather impressively held twice in Group D – but their winless streak across all tournaments now stands at an alarming 14 matches.

France eased to a 2-0 win during their previous meeting with Kazakhstan back in March – with Ousmane Dembele on the scoresheet – and it would be a shock to see the visitors’ first trip to Paris end in delirium.

France World Cup Qualifying – Europe form:
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France form (all competitions):
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Kazakhstan World Cup Qualifying – Europe form:
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Kazakhstan form (all competitions):
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We say: France 3-0 Kazakhstan
France will be forced to deal with the absences of some key players this month, but the chance to guarantee a first-placed finish with a game to spare is all the motivation that the hosts need to get the job done.

Kazakhstan have very little to play for and can therefore play without fear at the Parc des Princes, but Les Bleus ought to book their place in Qatar with a professional performance.

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