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London - The road to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil begins for European teams on Friday, with the top lineups expected to ease into their group campaigns after being handed some benign opening qualifying matches.
France, in particular, will be desperate for a fast start in Group I after being pooled with world champion Spain, which has the night off from qualifying and instead faces Saudi Arabia in a friendly.
The French, who have a new coach in Didier Deschamps, will be keen to avoid the kind of early slipup that marred the start to their Euro 2012 qualifying campaign, when they lost 1-0 at home to Belarus.
Ahead of Friday's match in Finland, Deschamps says Spain “is the big favorite but our target is to finish in front of them.”