France will need to beat a scrappy Poland team this afternoon to move on in their World Cup title defence campaign. Their opponents of the day fell 0-2 to Argentina, but still made it through the group stage with a better Goal differential than Mexico.
France will feel somewhat lucky to face Poland, who had a fairly unimpressive group stage – the White-Reds’ only win came against Saudi Arabia, who ended up finishing last in their group. However, Les Bleus should not overlook them. While Poland’s attack has been inconsistent they have been a cohesive unit on the defensive side of the ball. The only goals scored against them in the tournament coming from Argentinian moments of brilliance.
Poland lined up in a 4-4-2 in the last two matches, but may look to change things up after their 0-2 defeat and to account for France’s front 3. As Les Bleus’ assistant coach stated, “Often they will line up in a 4-4-2 or 4-4-1-1 … but can also play in a 5-3-2 and play very dense and tight.”
Poland’s fullbacks Matty Cash and Bartosz Bereszyński struggled against Argentina.Even though France lost the game, the match changed as soon as Ousmane Dembélé and Kylian Mbappé were subbed in. France will look to take advantage of these matchups. However, Poland does defend well as a team. They will try to overcome one-on-one matchups with high intensity and group defending.
On the other side of the field, Poland have been struggling to get shots on target. Robert Lewandowski may have recorded his first goal in the World Cup, but over the entirety of the tournament the Barcelona striker has been isolated and ineffective. If Les Bleus find themselves in danger, it will come from counter attacks. Poland may also see France’s weakness as their fullbacks and try to utilize width to attack the makeshift left and right-backs.
France possible starting lineup: Lloris; Koundé, Varane, Upamecano, T Hernandez; Tchouaméni, Rabiot; Dembélé, Griezmann, Mbappé, Giroud.
Poland possible starting lineup: Szczęsny; Cash, Glik, Kiwior, Bereszyński; Frankowski, Bielik, Krychowiak, Zieliński; Lewandowski, Milik
GFFN | Tony DesRois