• Poll in Le Parisien shows that only 16% still support Les Bleus
• Mathieu Valbuena expected to replace ineffective Samir Nasri
It is siege mentality time for the French national team. At least, it had better be. For if the squad happen to be scouring the papers or the internet ahead of their final shot at World Cup qualification as they bid to overturn a two-goal deficit against the Ukraine, the public vote is not too complimentary.
The newspapers have been polling the public to gauge confidence. In l'Equipe, with almost 60,000 people responding, some 61% do not think France will make it to Brazil 2014. The response in Le Parisien (23,000 votes) was even more radical. The pessimists numbered a shade over 84%. Perhaps most alarmingly of all was another question posed by Le Parisien. "Do you continue to support Les Bleus in spite of everything," it asked? A mere 16% clicked "Oui".
Pressure is bearing down on Didier Deschamps's team, who must improve in just about every department from the limp first-leg showing which gives Ukraine the upper hand. The crowd for a sellout Stade de France now arrives with low expectations, but this is an enigmatic team, and if everybody selected plays to their best level they have the weapons to strike back.
There are hopes that Raphael Varane, the Real Madrid defender, will recover from injury in time to replace the suspended Laurent Koscielny, and Samir Nasri, who caught considerable flak for his lack of creativity and non-rapport with Franck Ribery in the first leg, is expected to be replaced by Mathieu Valbuena of Marseille.
It is seven years since France last beat a team above them in the Fifa rankings. The classification does tend to throw up oddities, but all the same, such a stretch for a football nation of France's heritage shows that psychologically Deschamps and his team have it all to do.
There is hope, though: France scored nine without reply in their last two home matches – against Australia and Finland.