Soccer-French playoff opponent will not be smiling - Deschamps


PARIS, Oct 12 (Reuters) - France face the prospect of a World Cup qualifying playoff against one of the big footballing nations and no matter which team they draw, coach Didier Deschamps believes their opponents are unlikely to be smiling.

France are three points behind leaders Spain in Group I with one game left and will almost certainly have to go through the two-legged playoff in order to secure a place at next year's finals in Brazil.

However, they have little chance of being seeded and could, therefore, be drawn against Zlatan Ibrahimovic's Sweden or Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal.

"Being seeded does not spare you anything except that you don't face the teams who are considered the strongest," Deschamps told a news conference at France's Clairefontaine training facility, near Paris.

"But I think that the team who will be drawn against France won't smile either. We're not among the greatest teams in the world but ..."

Portugal are also likely to have to go through the playoffs after Friday's 1-1 draw against Israel left them three points behind Group F leaders Russia.

Of all the teams Portugal could meet in the playoffs, Ronaldo has said France are the side he feared the most.

"I couldn't say that I hope to face Portugal," Deschamps said in response to the comment.

Asked if he preferred to face an opponent with technical skills or physical strength, Deschamps said there was no good choice between Portugal and Sweden.

"There's nothing we can do to skip them. If you talk about these two teams, you will talk about Ronaldo or Ibra. They are two great nations," he said.

"If they are both in form, I would choose the team that we would beat and eliminate. No matter who we will face, we'll have to qualify."

The eight teams participating in the playoffs will be known after the final round of World Cup qualifiers on Tuesday.

The draw takes place the week after. The first leg of the playoffs will be played on Nov. 15 and the return four days later. (Reporting by Gregory Blachier; Editing by Editing by Alison Wildey)

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