The French team, weakened by injuries and plagued by doubts before this World Cup, was able to reassure itself during the group stage. Of course, the last match of the rotated squad was not to everyone’s taste. But it had the merit to show that in some positions, some players are more essential than others. The starting line-up did well and France are also the first team to break the curse of the world champions since 2006 by making it out of the group stage.
On the other side, Poland qualified in extremis for the round of 16 and have not been impressive so far. Certainly one of the most unbalanced matches of these knock-outs, that’s why we see les Bleus winning against Lewandowski’s Poles.
France Poland: freshness on the French side
Didier Deschamps’ men were among the only 3 teams to win the first 2 games of the group, and as a direct consequence of this result, les Bleus gave themselves the right to rotate during the defeat against Tunisia. Most of the team’s executives were rested. In a competition such as this 2022 World Cup, it is crucial to preserve the organisms and the players.
The succession of very high-intensity matches can weigh on the long term and this is a luxury that our world champions could afford. Rotating players also helps to involve more players, to get them into the rhythm of the competition and can help to establish a competition in certain positions. We quickly saw the limits of certain players.
The teammates of Robert Lewandowski and Wojciech Szczęsny could not afford this “luxury” as they fought until the last moment for their qualification directly against Argentina and indirectly against Mexico, and will have a shorter resting time.
France – Poland: A mountain to climb for the Biale Orly
There have been very few encounters between these two nations in recent years, les Bleus. The “Biale Orly” have crossed paths 16 times, the last time being in 2011 when Lloris and Mandanda were on the team sheet. The only encounter in the official competition dates back to 10 July 1982 and a 3-2 defeat in the third place match of the World Cup then played in Spain. Although it is difficult to see a trend with so little recent history, we will go by the intrinsic qualities of each team and between an Argentina that is gaining in confidence collectively or a euphoric Mexico accompanied by a horde of supporters, Poland looks like the lucky one.
The Polish team is globally a tone below and does not have any individuality except for its goalkeeper and its striker, thanks to a very good keeper and a victory against Saudi Arabia. Let’s not hide from the fear of losing, France is on top with its typical team. Only Varane can worry but Konaté can comfortably replace him to give more solidity to the French defence.
France – Poland: no surprise on both sides
A classic line-up is expected on both sides. The team we saw against Denmark is likely to be used by Didier Deschamps unless he was seduced by Konaté’s performance against Tunisia to make a central defence duo with Upamecano and Konaté. The Polish coach is expected to rely on his usual line-up with Lewandowski as the key figure.
Keys to the game: A struggling Polish attack
With only 2 goals, the Poles managed to qualify by being one of the worst attacks of this World Cup. All this while facing teams like Mexico, Saudi Arabia and even Argentina, teams not really known for their defensive strength. France was rather impressive in attack by finding the net 6 times during the group stage. They will rely on their quartet of offensive players Mbappé, Giroud, Dembélé, and Griezmann.
Defensively, Poland can rely on their wall Wojciech Szczęsny, who was impressive in the group stage (including two saved penalties). We can bet that the Juve goalkeeper will once again be on top of his game. He could potentially delay the opening goal of the French strikers. Defensively, France did not reassure us too much after a big mistake against Australia. This led to the opening goal from Australia, 3 of the 4 defenders were changed for the game against Denmark. While these four defenders brought more certainty to the game, the team showed itself to be fragile when it came to set pieces. Nothing catastrophic for all that, they will just have to be a little more solid on corners and free kicks since this solidity was one of the pillars of their success in 2018.
Other predictions to consider for France vs Poland. You probably understood that we see France winning quite easily against this Polish team. However, the game is likely to be tight and could break down in the second half for our Bleus. That’s why I opt for a half-time/full-time prediction: draw/France. This round of 16 will not be gargantuan in goals but Mbappé or Giroud will stand out. Final score 2-0 in favour of France.