France’s players celebrate their side’s first goal during the UEFA Nations League soccer match between France and Sweden at the Stade de France stadium in Saint-Denis, northern Paris, Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
- Qualifying for the 2020 World Cup in Qatar kicks off on Wednesday, March 24th
- France’s pursuit in defending their crown will begin with a Matchday 1 clash against a young, hungry Ukraine side
- Get our odds, preview, and best bet below for this Group D meeting below
All of Europe will begin their quest for World Cup qualification this week and right off the bat, we’ll have an intriguing Group D matchup between France and Ukraine on Wednesday, March 24th, kick-off at 3:45 PM EST at the Stade de France in Paris.
Les Bleus should have no problem soaring comfortably to the top of their pod with Bosnia, Finland, and Kazakhstan also in their group. The Ukrainians should not be taken lightly though after turning heads in the 2019 European qualifiers, where they booked their ticket to this summer’s tournament.
But, the French will be feeling hopeful about a positive result on Wednesday after thrashing Ukraine 7-1 in an international friendly back in October behind Olivier Giroud’s brace.
France vs Ukraine Odds
|France vs Ukraine||FRA -1.5 (-141) | UKR +1.5 (+112)||FRA -455 | UKR +1200 | DRAW +500||Ov 2.5 (-141) | Un 2.5 (+114)|
All odds taken March 23
France Rolling in With Confidence
After winning the last World Cup in Russia in 2018 and basically dominating in every aspect since, there’s little to no reason that France isn’t oozing with confidence as they prepare for qualifying.
With a squad brim-full of talent, Didier Deschamps has a bevy of players to choose from, starting with Kylian Mbappe. The PSG star is arguably one of the best strikers in the world not named Erling Haaland and a staple in the French national team.
He starred for his country in Russia at the tender age of 18 and with more experience under his belt now, it’s scary to think just how much better Mbappe can be on the international stage.
Antoine Greizmann and Anthony Martial will be two of eight players who will join Mbappe up top in the squad for the World Cup qualifiers, while the likes of Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante will patrol the midfield. As for the backline, Deschamps has chosen nine defenders, with Raphael Varane, Presnel Kimpembe, and Benjamin Pavard the headliners and three of the most experienced.
Getting ready for tomorrow’s game! 👊
🇫🇷🇺🇦 at 8.45pm CET#FiersdetreBleus pic.twitter.com/LR6bKvOvGr
— French Team ⭐⭐ (@FrenchTeam) March 23, 2021
Although qualifying for Qatar and Euros this summer will be the focus, France also has a chance to capture another trophy in the fall as they’re one of the last four sides left in the Nations League, which resumes in October.
Coming into Wednesday’s fixture, France has tasted defeat just once in their last eight appearances while winning on six occasions.
2022 FIFA World Cup Odds Tracker
Ukraine Looking for a Better Result Than October
COVID-19 ripped through Andriy Shevchenko’s team when they last clashed with Les Bleus, resulting in an embarrassing defeat. They’re very aware this will be their toughest match of World Cup qualifying, but a better showing will certainly be the goal.
Of Ukraine’s 33-man squad, five players had to withdraw due to injury problems and the virus. Expect them to take a more defensive-minded approach in this game against an attack-heavy French side that is full of lethal finishers.
The Ukrainians haven’t been in the best of form in recent international fixtures, winning just twice in their last six games in the Nations League last autumn, which resulted in relegation to Group B of the competition. On a more positive note though, their one victory was over a very strong Spain side.
His first day at training? His first City goal? His childhood nickname? 👶
Oleks Zinchenko answers some quick fire questions! ⏰🔥
🔷 #ManCity | https://t.co/axa0klD5re
— Manchester City (@ManCity) March 22, 2021
West Ham winger Andriy Yarmolenko will be looked upon to provide some brilliance in the final third, having scored 38 times in 92 appearances for his country, the best goal total of any player in Shevchenko’s current squad.
Gent star Roman Yaremchuk will likely lead the line with six goals in just 19 fixtures for Ukraine in his young career. Manchester City midfielder Oleksandr Zinchenko will also be a mainstay in the team and is able to play in both an attacking and holding role.
France vs Ukraine Key Stats
|5-1-0||Record in Nations League||2-0-4|
France vs Ukraine Best Bet
France is a massive favorite in this encounter, by no surprise. I really don’t see any way that Ukraine finds a result here, not even a draw. The reigning World Cup champions are simply too powerful and they also play brilliantly on home soil.
I’m taking the hosts to keep a clean sheet on Wednesday and score twice.
Pick: France 2-0 (+460)
Quinn Allen is a sports journalist, with a background and education in broadcast journalism (BCIT ’17). He writes about European Football, Basketball, and Baseball for numerous sites across the globe.