World Cup draw gives France a chance, says 1998 winner Thuram

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The former defender helped Les Bleus to conquer the world during his playing days and believes the class of 2018 can repeat the feat in Russia

France have been given a great chance of winning the World Cup thanks to a favourable draw in the group stage, according to former defender Lilian Thuram.

Didier Deschamps' side will face Australia, Denmark and Peru in Group C at Russia 2018 and are heavy favourites to reach at least the round of 16.

Thuram won 142 caps for Les Bleus and was a crucial part of the illustrious side that won the 1998 World Cup, Euro 2000 and the 2003 Confederations Cup.

The former Juventus and Barcelona star now hopes to see France mark the 20th anniversary of their triumph on home soil by claiming the trophy back next year.

"The draw looks very good [for France]. I say 'looks' because we have to play games and win," he said, speaking at the Peace and Sport International Forum 2017.

"I hope that France will go as far as possible and win this World Cup. I think that it is a very good team, with a very good coach, and this is important.

"We have some players with experience, they played the last World Cup and Euro 2016. I hope that this year will be the good one for a second victory."

Thuram admits it is a shock not to see Italy in the 2018 finals, but says their failure to beat Sweden in the play-off round proves the current generation is not strong enough.

"It is a big surprise because usually we expect to see Italy," he said. "Usually, Italy is one of the favourite teams. It shows that they don't have a very good generation.

"It is not because you are Italy or Spain or Argentina that you are going to play all the World Cups. It shows that you always have to work, especially on formation."

Thuram believes sport remains an important way to combat discrimination amid concerns of the risk of racism during the finals in Russia next year.

"Sport helped me," he said. "When I arrived in the Paris area, the first time that no one judged about my skin colour, it was when I played sports. You come as you are. If you are strong, you play. If you are not strong, you don't. But you can be as you are.

"I have an example. I am using sport to raise my children. One day, I was in Central Park, playing football with my children. I told them: 'You will see the power of football'. We started playing. Some people came and asked us if they could play with us. And more people came.

"At the end of the day, we played a big match, with people of different ages, different sexes, and probably different religions. I told my children: 'Never forget. This is the power of sport. It creates links and emotions'."

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