Blaise Matuidi: France must play with heart to reach 2014 World Cup finals

Blaise Matuidi. Photo: PA

Blaise Matuidi has called on France to play "with heart, with guts and with the head" as they bid for an improbable place in next summer's World Cup.

Les Bleus trail Ukraine 2-0 from Friday's first leg in Kiev after second-half goals from Roman Zozulya and Andriy Yarmolenko and must produce a remarkable turnaround back at the Stade de France on Tuesday.

Paris St Germain midfielder Matuidi told the French Football Federation's official website: "For most of us, it is the most important game in our careers.

"We all want to show something different to what we did on Friday. We have to be stronger in the battles and improve our technical quality.

"We have to play with heart, with guts, but with the head as well. We have to score but we cannot afford to let in a goal.

"We know we have the talent to do it but we have to show pride and passion."

In a poll in the country's biggest sports daily, L'Equipe, ahead of the return game, more than 60 per cent of respondents believed France would not qualify.

To do so, they will have to end Ukraine's run of eight successive clean sheets, a national record for which goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov was quick to share the credit with his defenders.

Pyatov told the Football Federation of Ukraine's website: "The guys have been great. This sequence was possible due to their efforts.

"When the goalkeeper is not beaten, the team has a better chance of winning. For me the main thing is the result of the team.

"It is more important to go to Brazil than to set records."

That defensive unit will be missing Olexander Kucher - who, like France's Laurent Koscielny, is suspended after his dismissal late in the first leg.

"Yes, we will miss him," said Pyatov. "But we have someone to replace him. We have (Yaroslav) Rakytskiy.

"I think the team understand their responsibilities and will cope with the problem."

The Shakhtar Donetsk keeper believes his side must improve even on their impressive first-leg showing to ensure qualification.

"We watched the first match with France, analysed our performance and the coach (Mykhailo Fomenko) showed us a large number of mistakes," he said. "Nothing is never perfect, we learn from our mistakes.

"It will be a difficult match but that's football. There is tension, emotion, but we are very focused on the game and believe in ourselves."