France international Lucas Digne believes that Les Bleus have as good a shot as anyone of winning the World Cup next summer.
Didier Deschamps’ men booked their passage to Russia in 2018 with victories over Belarus and Bulgaria, with the Barcelona full-back playing an integral role in both those fixtures.
Although France only managed to beat their opponents narrowly, they finished four points clear of Sweden and Netherlands atop UEFA Qualifying Group A and are considered one of the likeliest sides to win the competition.
While Digne believes his side are capable of claiming the prize, he would not necessarily put France down as the runaway favourites.
“We can win the World Cup with this team,” Digne told Goal. “Of course, we have to think like that.
“We have great ambitions and a huge potential in this squad, but there are other teams who can win it as well, so I don’t see ourselves as favourites.
“Of course we can improve as a team and hit our top level in Russia, but now we have qualified directly and that is a great feeling for us all – and for the whole country.
“We can allow ourselves to dream right now, but the most important thing is to work hard.”
Digne, 24, was a member of a defence in those two fixtures that comprised his team-mates from the Under-20 World Cup-winning squad, Samuel Umtiti and Raphael Varane, as well as Djibril Sidibe, who was the elder figure at just 25.
The young rearguard did not buckle under the pressure placed upon them, making it a week to remember for the former Lille and Paris Saint-Germain player.
“Going into the last two games, we knew we could decide everything ourselves by winning both,” he said. “We’re very satisfied that we managed to do just that.
“Personally, I’m happy that I could play the full match in both of these important fixtures and thereby contribute to helping us to the World Cup. Celebrating on Tuesday with a full and party-ready Stade de France was a special experience.”
He did admit, however, that there remains untapped potential in the team.
“We did the job but we can play better,” he added. “When we went 2-0 up, we looked great as a team but in the second half we struggled a bit to find our best and had to make it simple and work hard to get the result that we wanted.
“The only important thing was to win and qualify directly for the World Cup. We did that, so it was mission accomplished.”
Now Digne has targeted a place at the finals, where he will have to battle fellow left-backs Benjamin Mendy and Layvin Kurzawa for a spot in the France panel. The Barca player has more experience than both, having gained 18 caps and been a part of the squad at two major finals as Patrice Evra’s understudy.
“Even though I’m only 24, I’ve already been at the World Cup in Brazil and last summer’s European Championship, so believe me, being part of a big tournament and representing your country on the biggest stage is fantastic for all footballers,” he concluded.