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The Marseille playmaker hopes that the national side can make a good start under new coach Didier Deschamps, and has targetted a tussle with La Roja for top spot

Mathieu Valbuena is confident that France can spring an upset by finishing ahead of Spain in the 2014 World Cup qualifying Group I, but only provided that they do not have a slow start against Finland and Belarus.

Valbuena was part of the side that were comfortably defeated by La Roja in the quarter-finals of Euro 2012, and with that exit sparking yet another post-tournament squad bust-up, the Olympique de Marseille playmaker has issued a warning to his team-mates.

"We're our own worst enemy and if we start slowly, we may suffer a surprise result. But if we are focused and determined, we can do better than them," the 27-year-old told L'Equipe.

"With Spain in our group, we cannot afford to make any mistakes. We have to take maximum points from our first two matches, but it will not be easy."

Having thrived under the stewardship of Didier Deschamps at Marseille, Valbuena is optimistic about the upcoming qualification campaign, and of the opportunity to work with the new national team coach.

"He hasn't changed," he continued. "His opinions on life and on the game remain the same. He likes to create a winning culture on the pitch. That's what he did to win titles with Marseille. He's always the same, that's just the way he is."

Deschamps' side kick off their qualifying campaign away in Finland on Friday night before entertaining Belarus in Paris on Tuesday evening.


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