France finished top of Group D, while Poland were second in Group C.First time since Germany 2006 that the defending world champions have reached the last 16 of the World Cup.Winners will face England or Senegal in the quarter-finals.
Reigning world champions France have advanced to the knockout phase of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™, and that is an achievement in and of itself, given how the holders have fared over the past 16 years.
Infamously, Italy, Spain and Germany all failed to extricate themselves from their groups while attempting to defend their title in 2010, 2014 and 2018 respectively. And while Didier Deschamps and his men will be glad to have bucked that undesirable trend, they now have their sights set on overcoming the next obstacle in their path.
Poland, the obstacle in question, booked their place in the Round of 16 for the first time since 1986 by the tightest of margins, despite losing their Group C clash with Argentina 2-0 on Wednesday.
Robert Lewandowski and Co will certainly not be viewed as favourites against Les Bleus, but they will likely draw inspiration from Tunisia, who beat France 1-0 in their final group match. And while the French line-up had undergone a number of changes prior to the shock defeat, the team appeared more vulnerable than at the beginning of the tournament.
Possible starting XIs:
France: Hugo Lloris; Jules Kounde, Dayot Upamecano, Raphael Varane, Theo Hernandez; Aurelien Tchouameni, Adrien Rabiot, Antoine Griezmann; Ousmane Dembele, Olivier Giroud, Kylian Mbappe
Poland: Wojciech Szczesny; Bartosz Bereszynski, Jakub Kiwior, Kamil Glik, Matty Cash; Przemyslaw Frankowski, Sebastian Szymanski, Krystian Bielik, Piotr Zielinski; Arkadiusz Milik, Robert Lewandowski
Suspended: Grzegorz Krychowiak
Head to head :
France and Poland have crossed swords several times over the years, and Les Bleus have a clear statistical advantage (eight wins to three, with five draws). However, the only time that the two European sides met at a major international tournament, in the match for third place at Spain 1982, it was Antoni Piechniczek’s charges who emerged victorious (3-2), scoring just before and after half-time to claim a place on the podium.
If he plays against Poland this weekend, Griezmann will make his 71st successive appearance for France, an all-time national record.
With 136 matches and 77 goals on the international stage under his belt, Lewandowski is not only his country’s most-capped player, but he is also its all-time leading goalscorer – by quite some distance.
France coach Didier Deschamps said ,“We could have equalised against Tunisia, but the goal was chalked off. We’ve achieved our objective, though, and now a second competition is about to start.”
Poland forward Robert Lewandowski said, “Reaching the Round of 16 is a great achievement for us. It’ll be difficult against France; we’ll need to remain focused. I know that it wasn’t our best performance today [against Argentina]. But if we prepare better, if we can work on improving what didn’t work today, and if we give our all, we’ll definitely have a chance.”
Venue:Al Thumama Stadium