France will start their World Cup last-16 clash as overwhelming favorite’s on Sunday but opponents Poland are well equipped to derail Les Bleus’ title defense at the Al Thumama stadium.
France qualified for the knockout phase with a game to spare after two stylish performances against Australia and Denmark, and were quick to move on from a 1-0 defeat by Tunisia in the last Group D match after playing with a reserve side.
Les Bleus will face 𝗣𝗢𝗟𝗔𝗡𝗗 🇵🇱 in the 𝗹𝗮𝘀𝘁 𝟭𝟲 👊
Cancel your Sunday afternoon plans 😉#FiersdetreBleus pic.twitter.com/u6gFUEFJLL
— French Team ⭐⭐ (@FrenchTeam) November 30, 2022
Poland went through despite a 2-0 loss to Argentina in their last Group C game, carried through the opening phase by their sturdy defence and the touch of striker Robert Lewandowski. France will enter the contest with most of their top players having recharged their batteries, but patience, more than energy, might be key against Poland.
“They have experienced players. Obviously, Lewandowski is the stand-out player, one of the best strikers in the world,” said coach Didier Deschamps. “We should not underestimate them.”
Forward Kingsley Coman was equally cautious.
“It’s a World Cup game, anything is possible. Being the favorite doesn’t mean anything.”
France often struggles against compact sides who defend deep, such as Poland, but Deschamps has the tools at his disposal to crack a game wide open. While Kylian Mbappe, who is chasing records in Qatar after already scoring seven World Cup before the age of 24, might find it hard to use his devastating pace against a packed defence Ousmane Dembele could be France’s main threat.
The forward’s relentless dribbling, jinking one way before bursting past the other, could prove tough to handle for the Poles, who will also need to keep a close eye on Olivier Giroud in the box. The 36-year-old target man will become France’s all-time top scorer if he finds the back of the net for his 52nd international goal and move one ahead of Thierry Henry.
A touch of French flair on @KMbappe‘s 𝙣𝙚𝙬 𝙈𝙚𝙧𝙘𝙪𝙧𝙞𝙖𝙡𝙨 🇫🇷😉#KM #Mercurial #NikeFC #FiersdetreBleus pic.twitter.com/QChUuTQazk
— French Team ⭐⭐ (@FrenchTeam) December 1, 2022
Mbappe will also threaten, especially in combination with attack-minded left back Theo Hernandez. The French defence has been far from perfect so far, with Raphale Varane looking below his best after a hamstring injury, and the Manchester United player will need to find top form as a mouthwatering duel with Lewandowski looms.Top Sports News Now
“The best way to defend against him is to make sure he does not get the ball,” his former team mate at Bayern Munich Coman said.Also Read‘Can’t understand why coming here would damage Henderson’s legacy and Mes...Watch: Cristiano Ronaldo looks bemused after being snubbed for player of ...Jose Mourinho substitutes Roma player, forces his own team to play with 1...Neymar joins exodus from Europe for ‘greener’ pastures in Saudi ArabiaAdvertisement
France’s last line of defence, keeper Hugo Lloris, will be on high alert should Lewandowski receive the ball in the danger zone. Lloris is set to earn his 142nd cap, which will bring him level with record holder Lilian Thuram.
The winner of Sunday’s match will face either England or Senegal in the quarter-finals.