France must qualify for the World Cup - Blanc

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Les Bleus have made hard work of Group A, and have yet to qualify for the tournament in Russia next summer

Laurent Blanc has heaped extra pressure on the France squad by telling them that they "must" qualify for the World Cup and then challenge to win it.

France possess one of the best squads in international football and were expected to cruise through qualification as a result, but Group A has proved tough.

Didier Deschamps' men lead the group with two games remaining, but they are not yet assured of qualification or a play-off berth, with each of the top four nations still able to win the group.

France, who are a point ahead of Sweden at the summit, face a potentially tricky trip to Bulgaria on Saturday, before hosting Belarus on Tuesday.

Former coach Blanc remains confident Les Bleus will prevail, however.

"I trust the French team," the 51-year-old told France 3.

"They have fantastic players, especially in the offensive third, but not just there. There will be pressure, but good pressure.

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"I hope the French team will qualify for the World Cup – they must.

France 11/2 to win the World Cup

"If we can qualify, we will have a role to play. Will we win the World Cup? Well, you qualify to win it."

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