France v Poland
France continue their 2022 World Cup campaign with a last-16 clash against Poland on Sunday, with Didier Deschamps’ men firm favourites to negotiate the tie.
Les Bleus, though, suffered a shock defeat at Euro 2020 at the hands of Switzerland and will be eager to avoid a repeat of that fiasco versus the Poles.
After a disappointing but at the same time satisfying result against Argentina Poland is ready to take a step forward. They progressed to the next round and now take on France in their Round of 16 match on Sunday. There is, though, overall pessimism all over the nation regarding the successful outcome of this tie. And fairly justified.
Poland played badly against South Americans and although they lost by a mile it is believed they will implement the same tactics against the World champions. So we can expect highly defensive play with cautious defence (conceded only two goals in Group C matches) and heroic and best so far goalkeeper of the tournament (Wojciech Szczęsny already saved two penalties).
Offensively Poland will depend on sporadic counter-attacks and long balls toward the strikers. Obviously, they are not considered a big threat up front despite having a world-class striker in the person of Robert Lewandowski.
The team managed only five shots on target in a group stage (3 of them from Lewandowski) which resulted in two goals against Saudi Arabia. It will be tough to break the French defence. I believe the 0-0 after 120 minutes is something that the Poles are hoping for and I am sure they will take this result sight unseen.
Historically, this is a strong matchup for France. They have met Poland 16 times previously, winning half of those. Interestingly, they have failed to win any of the last three competitive matches against Poland, including a 3-2 loss in the 1982 World Cup finals.
Meanwhile, there is no recent history between the nations, with the last fixture between these sides taking place in 2011. France won that friendly 1-0 thanks to an early own goal.
Back in the present day, Deschamps’ side are coming off a 1-0 loss to Tunisia. That defeat should not hurt France too much given the volume of changes they made for the match, while they improved dramatically when they introduced their leading stars late on. Indeed, Antoine Griezmann was only denied an equaliser in very controversial circumstances.
France will, of course, revert back to their strongest shape for Sunday’s fixture, though there are some doubts over Theo Hernandez at left-back due to an ankle problem. He is expected to overcome this and play, but if his fitness fails, there is no natural replacement in that area, which would become a clear point of weakness.
France should have enough to win this match, but it promises to be a trickier fixture than forecast.
Kylian Mbappe is carrying the France attack in Qatar 2022 and is a player who is in simply sparkling form. His form at international level lately has been excellent, with the PSG forward scoring 14 times in his last 13 appearances for his country.
He already has three goals in the World Cup finals and is chasing the competition’s Golden Boot award. The difference he made to France when he came off the bench against Tunisia was palpable, with the team transformed thanks to his threat.
Although Rabiot has been playing a deep role in midfield for France in this tournament, he has been acting as something of a box-to-box player in Didier Deschamps’ system. Indeed, it was the Juventus man who struck their opening goal of the competition thanks to his equaliser against Australia.
He followed that up with a very attacking performance against Denmark, in which he got four shots away, one of which was on target. The match against the Danes is likely to follow a similar pattern to this one against Poland, so Rabiot can be expected to be an attacking influence for France once more as options from deep may be required to help break what is expected to be a packed Poland defence.
Krystian Bielik has not had a great tournament so far. He plays cautiously and sometimes carelessly. So far, he has committed 5 fouls in his 197 minutes on the pitch in Qatar. In my opinion he will add a minimum two more fouls to his tally.
He is going to be forced to play against one of the best players in the world and that could prove too much for him to avoid fouls, presumably a card. His discipline record in the national team (3 yellow cards in 8 appearances) is one more factor suggesting he could break the rules on more than two occasions.
Although his style of play is more and more distinct and technical when faced with very fast and talented opponents playing for the quarter finals of the World Cup he is very likely to have two or more fouls to his name.
Written by an Andy verified content writer
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