France might have featured in Euro 2016 without having to undergo the qualifying phases as they were the hosts, but they have no short cut to Russia, who are the 2018 FIFA World Cup hosts. France are slotted in a tough group, which includes Netherlands, Sweden, Belarus, Bulgaria and Luxemborg.
France did not get off to a bright start in their first qualifying match against Belarus in September, with the game finishing in a goalless draw. France will hope to pick their first three points of the campaign as they prepare to battle it out against Bulgaria at Stade de France in Saint Denis on Friday.
The home fans had huge hopes from their national team in Euro 2016, but they faltered in the final hurdle as Portugal clinched the title. However, France were one of the best teams in the competition with players like N'Golo Kante, Antoine Griezmann and Olivier Giroud shining.
France always have a storng teams in all competitions, and this match against Bulgaria is going to be no different for the French. However, they will have to do without injured Arsenal striker Giroud, and with Karim Benzema still not present in the squad, it will present a chance for Kevin Gameiro to showcase his skills.
A solid performance against Bulgaria on Friday will further push manager Didier Deschamps to select him for future matches as well. With Gameiro having signed for Atlectico Madrid, he plays alongside Griezmann in the club, which will make them a formidable pair in international football as they develop their chemistry further.
"Individually, both of them are quality players and the fact that they are playing together with their club is a good thing. They can improve their chemistry," AP quoted Deschamps as saying.
With solid players like Paul Pogba, Anthony Martial and Raphael Varane, they have a quality team, which should not have much trouble in earning their first win in the qualifiers.
But, Bulgaria, who are ranked 74th in the world, might not posses the class players, which France possess, but they will not give up easily. Bulgaria will play with strong determination to help them stun France in front of their home fans.
They come into this match with their heads held high after defeating Luxembourg in their last match, score reading 4-3.
Where to watch live
France vs Bulgaria is scheduled for 8:45 pm local time (12:15 am IST, 2:45 ET, 6:45 GMT) start.
INDIA: TV - Sony Six. Live streaming - Sony Liv.
UK: TV -Sky Sports 4/HD Live streaming - Watch Sky Sports
USA: TV - ESPN 3. Live streaming - Watch ESPN
Bulgaria: BNT 1