With a win over Belarus, France officially sealed its spot in the 2018 World Cup. Despite being handled one of the most difficult qualifying groups in Europe, France beat out Sweden and the Netherlands to top Group A and avoid the playoffs.
Les Bleus now await their seed, and they find themselves in a good position. Depending on results elsewhere, France could find itself in Pot 1, comprised of the seven highest-ranked nations as well as host Russia. If the French don’t rank high enough, they’ll be in Pot 2 and will still be favored to advance to the knockout stages. Portugal’s win over Switzerland temporarily pushed France into Pot 1, and they’ll need to have either Chile fail to defeat Brazil or have Argentina fail to qualify altogether to secure their spot as one of the top eight seeds.
France’s best showing in the World Cup came in 1998, when Les Bleus won the World Cup as the host nation. Its best showing on foreign soil came in 2006 in Germany, when it finished as runner-up to Italy. If past history is any indication, the French could be in for a strong showing in Russia next year. Out of the past five European World Cups that France has qualified for, the French have made it to at least the semifinals four times. In the most recent World Cup, France topped Group E and defeated Nigeria in the round of 16 before falling to eventual champion Germany in the quarterfinals.