France have not failed to reach a World Cup since 1994, when David Ginola was the scapegoat following the shock home loss to Bulgaria that cost them their place.
Four years later they won the tournament, but have in recent years found qualifying a struggle. They infamously edged the Republic of Ireland out of the 2010 finals through Thierry Henry's sleight of hand and many would find it poetic justice should Didier Deschamps' side not get past Ukraine with the first of two legs in Kiev tonight.
"We need a good away result so we can deal with the return leg," said Franck Ribery, who has scored six and set up nine of France's last 24 goals."These (play-off) games are special. They are surrounded by a difficult context. We need to play without pressure. We should not be afraid."