France, one of the strong European teams, qualified automatically for Euro 2016 as hosts, but there is no short cut route for them in World Cup 2018. France have to play quality game in the qualifiers to ensure they do not miss out on the football carnival, two years down the line in Russia.
France are pitted in a tricky group, which includes the Netherlands, Sweden, Bulgaria, Belarus and Luxembourg. They will be keen to get off to a winning start as they prepare to face Belarus at Borisov Arena on Tuesday. Likewise, Belarus, who will be playing in front of their home fans, will be keen to start their World Cup qualifying campaign on a positive note.
The visitors should start the match as favourites, given the number of incredible stars present in their squad. The likes of Paul Pogba,, Olivier Giroud and Antoine Griezmann will hope for a good performance against Belarus.
Though France are favourites to top the group, striker Giroud does not want to take any team lightly.
"The Netherlands are rebuilding and Sweden lost Zlatan (Ibrahimovic) and begin a new era. Bulgaria, Belarus and Luxembourg are weaker than us, (but) we must not fall into complacency and rest on our laurel," Giroud told Le Parisien.
France cannot afford to think too ahead, and just concentrate on their opening match against Belarus, who will be eager to stun France. Belarus might not be a strong contender, but teams at home can be a difficult nut to crack, as one has witnessed in the past.
What makes the case of Belarus' players stronger is the involvement of players in their league, so they should not have much problem in terms of fitness. Giroud expects a tough match against Belarus.
"I don't know this team (Belarus), we haven't had time to study them. We expect a difficult match but it's up to us to make it easy. They're well into their league season so physically they'll be in top shape, which won't be our case, me especially," Giroud said.
Both teams come into this fixture with confident wins under their belt. If France defeated a strong Italy team in their last friendly, Belarus have managed to beat the Republic of Ireland (May) and Norway (August) in their last two matches. Belarus, who failed to qualify for Euro 2016, looked decent in the Euro qualifiers, where they finished fourth in their group comprising six teams.
Belarus' coach Alyaksandr Khatskevich will want his players to give it their all, and hope for a positive outcome.
Where to watch live
Belarus vs France match timings - 9:45 p.m local time (12:15 am IST, 7:45 pm BST, 2:45 p.m ET). Live streaming and TV options can be found below.
India: TV: Sony Espn. Live Streaming: Sonyliv.
France: TV: TF1
US: TV: Fox Sports 2 USA. Live Streaming: Fox Sports Go.
UK: TV: Sky Sports 2/HD. Live Streaming: Sky Go.