THE path out of Group D should be safely negotiated by France. It could well lead them onto the road to glory, and a place in the World Cup history books.

Victory in Qatar would see Didier Deschamps’ side become only the third nation – after Italy in 1938 and Brazil in 1962 – to retain the most famous and coveted prize in the game. If any extra incentive was needed, then that is surely it.

It is a squad who are accustomed to success at home and abroad for club and country, one filled with household names that could hang up their boots tomorrow with their money in the bank. The psyche that wants to work and achieve time and again is one of the factors that separates the good from the great and an immortal status would be bestowed on Deschamps and his side if they can indeed record successive World Cup triumphs.

The Italian side of the thirties is perhaps not that well known to audiences of today. Their achievements did, after all, come in only the second and third competitions as Czechoslovakia were beaten in Rome and Hungary lost in Paris to an Azzurri line-up captained by Giuseppe Meazza, the legendary figure that the San Siro is named after.

By the time the feat was repeated a couple of decades later, the football world was already in awe of the man who could go on to become the most revered player of all time.

A certain Edson Arantes do Nascimento, or Pele of course, made his breakthrough in the tournament of 1958 as hosts Sweden were overcome 5-2 in the final. Next time around, Czechoslovakia were the nearly men once again and Brazil had their place in the folklore of the game.

That is the esteemed company that this French squad – one which could lay claim to being the most naturally gifted in the tournament – can now join and the experience of triumphing in Russia four years ago can only stand them in good stead this time around. Winning the World Cup is one thing, but retaining it is quite another.

Deschamps will have to do without two of the stalwarts of the side from last time out. There will be no place for N’Golo Kante or Paul Pogba, two very different characters but equally as influential on the park, through injury.

If there is a group who can cope with such absences, then it is surely Les Bleus. Prices of around 6/1 see them touted as third favourites behind Brazil and Argentina and are testament to the strength of hand that Deschamps can still play in the coming weeks.

He does, of course, have the best player in the world, the newly crowned Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema, to lead the attack. The World Cup is the only major item missing from Benzema’s glittering collection of accolades and medals and it would be somewhat fitting if he could inspire his nation to glory so soon after returning to the squad.

Benzema has arguably lost the best years of his international career and he was left out of the groups for Euro 2016 and Russa after becoming embroiled in a sex tape scandal involving former teammate Mathieu Valbuena. His status for Real Madrid is undoubted, now a World Cup medal would complete his retribution and secure his legacy at international level.

It would only add to the superstar value of Kylian Mbappe, a man who can achieve whatever he wishes in the game. The likes of Benzema and Mbappe will naturally grab the attention but there is strength and depth across the park and France are sure to be entertaining even if they fall short.

Meetings with Australia and Tunisia should be relatively straightforward for the defending champions and are perhaps not blockbusters for the neutral to plan their viewing around. The second fixture of Group D will be, though, as Christian Eriksen seeks to inspire Denmark to a third successive win over France following impressive Nations League victories in June and September.

France won just one of their six Group A1 outings as Austria were beaten at home and a third place finish does raise form concerns and questions heading to Qatar. It would be a surprise, though, if Les Bleus don’t step it up when it really matters.

One World Cup win has made national heroes and a second would enshrine legends. Now, what is French for déjà vu?