RIO DE JANEIRO - Coach Laurent Blanc
criticised France's exclusion from the top European seeds for
Saturday's 2014 World Cup qualifying draw after they landed in
the same group as champions Spain.
France, World Cup winners in 1998 and runners-up in 2006,
were among the nine teams in the second tier and will also face
Belarus, Georgia and Finland after being drawn in Group I.
"I don't know why France are in the second group, why
Greece, Norway and Croatia are ranked higher," Blanc told
reporters after the gala draw held at a yachting marina near the
centre of Rio.
"We had to face one of the top [seeded] teams, and we got
the biggest," he added.
"We should have been in the first group - and now we have
drawn the best team of the last World Cup, but then, you have no
FIFA based their seeding on the world rankings and France's
10th place among the European teams put them in the second tier.
With only the group winners assured of an automatic place in
the finals, one of Spain or France will most likely have to
qualify through a two-leg European play-offs to reach Brazil.
"The qualifiers are always dangerous... Belarus took four
points," Blanc said of the eastern European team who are also in
France's qualifying group for Euro 2012 and upset them 1-0 in
Paris in September before a 1-1 draw in Minsk last month.
However, Blanc tried to focus on the positive side of being
in the only one of the nine European groups to have five rather
than six teams.
"If you only focus on Spain, you'd say 'it's impossible,
it's a very difficult group' but the first team qualifies and so
do the best second-placed teams.
"It's not a disadvantage to be second... logic would say
we'd take [second] among the five teams," he said.
"It's two matches less. In the calendar that can have it's
importance," he added, referring to physical toll on players at
the top of the European and international game.
"The best international players play in the best clubs so
they also play in European competitions."
He also relished the prospect of facing old rivals Spain.
"It will be a beautiful match because... to face the best
is always enriching."
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