Giovanni Trapattoni's defiance that the Republic of Ireland can qualify for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ is being matched by Raymond Domenech's eagerness for his France side to go out and show their "superiority" in Wednesday's winner-takes-all play-off clash.

The smile on France manager Domenech's face after his side's victory at Dublin's Croke Park, where Nicolas Anelka's deflected shot proved enough for a 1-0 win, was one of belief, as much as relief last Saturday. But while the statistics may be against the men from the Emerald Isle, Trapattoni believes his team can exploit French defensive "weaknesses" and qualify for South Africa 2010.

Other, less tangible, factors should be considered ahead of the sides' crunch encounter at the Stade de France on Wednesday. And whether the Irish legendary fighting spirit - in the wake of alleged derogatory comments by France midfielder Lassana Diarra that almost led to a post-match punch-up - is something they should count on remains to be seen.

When the French team concede goals, it's usually after dead ball situations,

Republic of Ireland coach Giovanni Trapattoni.

Trapattoni remains optimistic, and appears confident the Irish will be instilled with the confidence that they can overcome their first leg setback. "When the French team concede goals, it's usually after dead ball situations," said the Italian.

"It's our biggest chance. We have to rely on our strong points and try to exploit France's weak points. We have to think about the positive situations and not the result because in the end, football can come down to a deflection, the crossbar, the referee - there are many situations which can change the result."

Trapattoni, who for many is known as the king of catenaccio - a highly defensive strategy often employed in the Italian game - might be among the first to admit that, in comparison, France are a class above his side, on paper at least. But it is in such situations Ireland, who arguably have nothing to lose but everything to win, could dig deeper against a side that has often been guilty of under-performing against 'smaller' teams.

While Chelsea striker Anelka questioned how they would approach the match tactically, Domenech - set to stick with his cherished 4-3-2-1 formation - is unequivocal. "We have to go out there and play to win. For us the match is still 0-0," he said.

"Our strong point is being able to score goals. We mustn't get it into our heads that they (Ireland) are going to come here and cause us problems. We have to wrap up this match. Playing to win is far better."

Injury concerns
As Trapattoni prepares to count on a fully fit squad, Domenech has had to reshuffle following injuries to midfielder Jeremy Toulalan and central defender Eric Abidal. However it may not be the French team's physical condition that lets them down.

In the past Les Bleus have often under-performed at the Stade de France. Domenech's head could roll if Ireland cause an upset, and he has pleaded with both his team and the fans to perform on the night. "I hope the players are like me, impatient. Impatient to play this match, impatient to go out and show we're a better team, and impatient to qualify," he said.

"We want this match to come as quickly as possible," he added, calling on the fans to get behind France. We need them from the first minute to the last. We're not qualified yet, and we don't know what's going to happen."

Ireland's poor away results in official competition, last winning against a team of the top rank - Turkey in the UEFA Euro '92 qualifiers, do not stand them in good stead. And Ireland goalkeeper Shay Given was not under-estimating the task that lies ahead when he said: "Qualifying for the World Cup in Paris would be the most historic achievement ever for Irish football."

But with a first appearance at the FIFA World Cup since they made it to the second round in 2002 at stake for Trapattoni and his men, anything could happen.