The 2018 defending World Cup champions came into this tournament with many doubters, and they shut the door on most of them through the group stage as they now head into the knockout stage full of confidence.
Les Bleus may have lost last time out against Tunisia, but they played almost all backups having already confirmed a knockout place by then and being able to rotate the squad. Even still, the French probably should have had an equalizing goal had Antoine Griezmann not been called offside.
They faced a Poland side that managed goals in just one of its three group games, with their two strikes both coming against Saudi Arabia. Head coach Czeslaw Michniewicz knows that his side has to improve if they are to have any chance against the World Cup title holders.
Michniewicz joked that he can only call in the players available to him, and it’s his job to get the best of them, but he’s not a miracle worker. “I can’t turn water into wine, although that might be useful right now,” he joked after the 0-0 draw with Mexico to begin group stage play. Reigning world champions France face Poland in their round of 16 ties on Sunday afternoon.
Both nations advanced despite losing their final group games. Yet, while Didier Deschamps shuffled his pack against Tunisia with qualification already assured, Poland scraped into the round of 16 by goal difference alone. For more than 20 minutes, Poland was only above Mexico in Group C under a lower yellow card tally.
France Team News
After an injury-riddled start to the tournament, Deschamps wrapped his stars up in cotton wool, making nine changes to the starting XI which faced Tunisia. The lackluster performance – until some of those lofty names came on – would have done little to convince Deschamps that any of the reserves deserve a starting berth.
France predicted lineup vs Poland
France Starting 11 (4-2-3-1): Lloris; Kounde, Varane, Upamecano, T Hernandez; Tchouameni, Rabiot; Dembele, Griezmann, Mbappe; Giroud.
Bench: Mandanda, Areola, Disasi, Pavard, Saliba, Konate, Guendouzi, Veretout, Camavinga, Y Fofana, Kolo Muani, Coman, Thuram.
Poland Team News
Czeslaw Michniewicz is expected to have a full squad at his disposal. Although, Poland’s manager doesn’t seem to be entirely convinced of the quality it possesses. Before backtracking, Michniewicz jokes: “I can’t turn water into wine. Although here that might be useful.”
Poland predicted lineup vs France
Poland Starting 11 (4-2-3-1): Szczęsny; Cash, Glik, Kiwior, Bereszynski; Krychowiak, Bielik; Frankowski, Zielinski, Kaminski; Lewandowski.
Bench: Grabara, Skorupski, Bednarek, Jedrzejczyk, Wieteska, Gumny, Zurkowski, D Szymanski, Zalewski, S Szymanski, Grosicki, Swiderski, Skoras, Milik, Piatek.
France vs Poland Score Prediction
While the loss suffered by France’s B team to Tunisia offers little insight into their clash with Poland, the luxury of rotation could play a key role going forward. Deschamps certainly thinks so. “I think we’ll see the benefit four days from now,” the World Cup winner warned.
Poland has been comfortably outshot in all three of their group games yet somehow conspired to eke out four points. If they adopt the same desperately passive approach, France and their well-rested frontline are unlikely to be quite as forgiving as Mexico and Saudi Arabia.
Prediction: France 3-0 Poland