France v Spain preview – Giants prepare to meet in crunch clash in bid to reach World Cup

Le Crunch: All eyes on Paris as France host stuttering Spain in World Cup clash that could send champions tumbling towards play-offs

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Killer blow: Xabi Alonso opens the scoring for Spain against France in the Euro 2012 quarter-final in Donetsk

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Real Madrid centre-back Raphael Varane could win his second cap by virtue of his more intricate knowledge of the Spanish forwards.

The Spanish – as is their way – will take nothing less than three points to recover the initiative in Group I with three matches remaining.

'The only thing that changes is that a draw with France now isn't enough,' Cesc Fabregas said. 'But the idea was always to go to France aiming for a victory.

'We will be highly motivated and we will have to bring out the best in ourselves.'

Draw is not enough: Cesc Fabregas, in action here in the return fixture in Gijon, says Spain will be going all out for the win

Draw is not enough: Cesc Fabregas, in action here in the return fixture in Gijon, says Spain will be going all out for the win

European World Cup qualifying Group I

Turning possession into goals is Spain's priority and the country's all-time leading scorer David Villa, who netted on their last visit to Paris in a 2-0 friendly victory in 2010, was confident of success.

'We were going there for a win anyway and now we do so with a stronger motive,' the Barcelona striker said after the Finland game.

'Our way of playing is always the same. Even if we had beaten Finland we would have played the same in Saint-Denis. We aren't thinking of the playoffs, or anything else beyond getting a win against France on Tuesday.'

When Spain beat Italy to win their third straight major title at last year's European Championship, it was unthinkable they could be absent from the Rio football carnival.

Following a run of 24 consecutive qualifying wins, they have slumped to back-to-back draws with France and Finland, having beaten Georgia and Belarus earlier in the campaign.

For once, Spain appear to be there for the taking, though much will depend on striker Benzema, who has scored just three times in his last 23 outings for France.

Certain sections of the French media have called for him to be dropped as a result, but Deschamps has no such intention.

'I believe in Karim,' he said unequivocally.

Thankfully for Deschamps, other sectors of the French attack are in full flow, with winger Franck Ribery and attacking midfielder Mathieu Valbuena in excellent form – particularly Valbuena, who scored a great goal against Georgia and created the other two.

'We ask attacking players to be decisive, and Valbuena is just that,' Deschamps said. 'He's full of confidence and it shows.'

Jubilation: Mathieu Valbuena and Franck Ribery celebrate after the former scores against Georgia

Jubilation: Mathieu Valbuena and Franck Ribery celebrate after the former scores against Georgia

Dropped points: Cazorla and teammates at the end of Spain's 1-1 draw with Finland on Friday evening

Dropped points: Cazorla and teammates at the end of Spain's 1-1 draw with Finland on Friday evening

Deschamps has high praise for Giroud, too, but suggested he could be more useful using his aerial threat against a tiring defence.

'He has that ability, and that's a weapon I can obviously use at any time,' Deschamps said.

Spain's Santi Cazorla knows all about Giroud, playing alongside him for Arsenal, and considers him to be an equal threat to Benzema.

'They are very different. Olivier has killer instincts, a penalty box player,' Cazorla said. 'Karim is a playmaker, he enters in open play more. They are two great players.'

Probable teams:

France: Hugo Lloris; Christophe Jallet, Mamadou Sakho, Raphael Varane, Patrice Evra; Moussa Sissoko, Blaise Matuidi, Yohan Cabaye, Mathieu Valbuena, Franck Ribery; Karim Benzema

Spain: Victor Valdes; Alvaro Arbeloa, Sergio Ramos, Gerard Pique, Nacho Monreal; Xabi Alonso, Sergio Busquets, Xavi, Andres Iniesta; Cesc Fabregas, David Villa