The champion’s curse is gone. France, the previous world champions, are in the knockout game there. The ominous streak began with the French themselves in 2002 when they finished bottom in a group with Denmark, Senegal and Uruguay without a win.
Brazil was the exception in 2006, but his run was also cut short in the Les Bleus quarter-finals. Since then, Italy, Spain and Germany have fallen at the first hurdle. But Didier Deschamps’ side, brimming with attacking riches, led their group in Qatar 2022 despite losing their last game to the Tunisians.
Deschamps made several changes in that last league game, benching Kylian Mbappe, Ousmane Dembele and Antonie Griezmann, among others. However, the price of the leisurely stroll had to be paid when Wahbi Khazri scored the all-important goal.
But against a shot-shy Poland at Al Thumma, France will need Mbappe’s speed to load the left channel, while Griezmann’s runs from deep will bring additional scoring threats. The goalscorer of 42 caps was the heart of this French side in his right midfield role and had set Mbappe up to score the winner against Denmark. Griezmann has ventured forward when needed and only a late call from VAR (vs Tunisia) has prevented him from scoring his first goal of the tournament.
Robert Lewandowski mostly wandered around alone in the game against Argentina while Poland were busy defending, pulling men back to fill the gaps Argentina had created. Also against France they will try to park the bus and hit the opponent.
“Poland had to defend a lot in the three games. And they defend very well; I would even say that they like that they like to suffer. But we must not limit ourselves to that. We know their offensive players. They are a competitive team, they have a hard core of players with a lot of international experience who have already played in various competitions with almost a hundred international caps,” said Deschamps in the pre-match press conference.
Despite Lewandowski leading his line, Czeslaw Michniewicz’s side only managed four shots on target and scored twice.
Michniewicz’ focus will return to defensive form, but striker Arkadiusz Milik was relaxed enough to laugh. “We need to buy scooters for our defenders,” he said of the team’s plan to stop the explosive Mbappe.
Michniewicz is aware of the quality of France packs in every department. “I’ve searched and searched [for a weakness in France]. I did not find it. But I’m sure that every team has phases in the game when they make mistakes. We have to lure the French out of these mistakes and keep them under constant pressure,” said the coach. “France is on a similar level to Argentina. Maybe there is more individuality in the squad, more faster players on the wings. If we beat the defending champion, we can call ourselves world champions for a moment. We dream about it.”
However, Poland has history on its side. The only World Cup duel between the two ended in 1982 when Poland won 3-2 in the match for third place.
France wins: 8th
Poland wins: 3
France goals: 27
Poland destinations: 16
France vs. Poland Expected XI
France possible XI: Lloris (GK); Kounde, Varane, Upamecano, T. Hernandez; Tshouameni, Rabiot; Dembele, Griezmann, Mbappe; Giroud
Poland XI: Szczesny (GK); Cash, Glik, Kiwior, Bereszynsky; Frankowski, Bielik, Krychowiak, Zielinski; Lewandowski, Milik
When and where to see
When will the round of 16 match between France and Poland kick off?
The round of 16 France vs Poland kicks off on December 4th at 20:30 IST.
Where will the round of 16 match between France and Poland kick off?
The Round of 16 match between France and Poland kicks off at Al Thumama Stadium.
Where can you watch the round of 16 match between France and Poland in India?
The round of 16 match between France and Poland will be broadcast live on Sports18 and Sports18 HD. On Android and iOS, the FIFA World Cup 2022 will be streamed live on JioCinema.
Where can you watch the round of 16 match between France and Poland outside of India?
Argentina Live Stream: Telemundo
United States – TV: FOX, Telemundo; Live Stream: fuboTV, Fox Sports App, Telemundo Deportes En Vivo
Canada – Television: CTV, TSN; Live stream: fuboTV, TSN app
United Kingdom – Television: BBC One; Live stream: BBC iPlayer, BBC Sport website
Australia – TV: SBS; Live Stream: SBS On Demand
New Zealand – TV: Sky Sports; Live streaming: Sky Sport
Malaysia – TV: RTM, Astro; Live Stream: Astro Go
Singapore – TV: Mediacorp Channel 5; Live Stream: StarHub TV+, IPTV, Singlet TV
Hong Kong – TV: BeIN Sports, ITV; Live Stream: Now TV, ViuTV
Nigeria – SuperSport and Showmax Pro.
All results of the FIFA World Cup 2022 can be found here: Complete list of all matches, scores, scores, scorers