France vs Poland Prediction
4th December 2022
18:00 Qatar Time/15:00 GMT
Al Thumama Stadium, Doha
Referee: Jesus Valenzuela (Venezuela)
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World Cup Head-to-Head Record
Played:1 Poland Wins:1
France vs Poland Prediction Match Overview
France vs Poland will determine who meets the winner of England vs Senegal in the quarter-finals of the World Cup. France rarely looked in trouble in Group D. After surprisingly going behind in their first game against Australia, France rallied to come back and claim a rousing 4-1 win. In the second match against Denmark, Kylian Mbappe scored a beautiful goal to open the scoring before Denmark equalised from a corner. However, Mbappe scored again to seal the victory. Having already qualified, coach Didier Deschamps made wholesale changes to the team for the third game, where they lost 1-0 to Tunisia. This defeat was not enough to stop France from topping the group.
Poland finished in second place in Group C, comprising group winners Argentina, Mexico, and Saudi Arabia. Following a drab goalless draw with Mexico, where Robert Lewandowski missed a penalty, Poland defeated Saudi Arabia 2-0. The Asians had shockingly beaten the Argentines in their first game. They outplayed Poland for much of the game, with Salem Al-Dawsari missing a penalty. Poland went into their final match against Argentina, needing just a point to qualify. They submitted an extremely negative performance, and Argentina won comfortably, although Lionel Messi missed a penalty. At one point, the Poles were only through over Mexico on disciplinary points. However, a late Saudi Arabia goal against the Mexicans clinched it on goal difference.
Both teams now meet in the second round of 16 match at 6 pm local time on Sunday. They come into France vs Poland knowing that France are overwhelming favourites. Indeed, Poland have been criticised for their negative displays, particularly against Argentina. The French will be licking their lips in anticipation of potentially making a statement. The winners of this match will play England or Senegal in the quarter-finals.
Injuries and Suspensions
Might not play:
Will not play: L Hernandez, Thuram (France)
France vs Poland Prediction Analysis
France will reintroduce their starters to the team. Poland may move from a back three to a back four to give themselves more hope after being criticised for playing overly-pragmatic football. The contest for midfield will be vital in this game. Aurelien Tchouameni and Adrien Rabiot will likely start for France. Both players are technically gifted and good at short passing and retaining the ball. France will look to Antoine Griezmann as the link between midfield and attack in the hole. He knits the team together, and he will drop deeper to form a midfield triangle with the two defensive midfielders. The Polish midfielders Krystian Bielik and Grzegorz Krychowiak have been very passive throughout this tournament, rarely engaging the opposition midfielders on the other team and not pressing. Giving opponents time and sitting deep is clearly a directive from the coach. However, they cannot afford to be so negative in this game, as they know if they give France time, the World Champions can destroy them.
Therefore, there is a slight chance the Poles will be more aggressive in France vs Poland than they were throughout the group stage. However, it is a balancing act. The French midfield has the ability to evade the press and expose the gaps left once it is beaten, so the Poles’ dilemma will be when to engage and when to be more cautious. They will likely play on the counter-attack, hoping to contain France but hopefully winning the ball on occasion to transition quickly to support Lewandowski. Krychowiak and Bielik will also link with Piotr Zielinski, who will try to perform a similar role for Poland as Griezmann will for France. The Polish midfielders must be diligent and disciplined and do their best not to allow Tchouameni and Rabiot to control the game. However, France will likely win the midfield contest, and we expect them to dominate possession.
The wide areas will go a long way to deciding the game’s outcome. France play with two flying wingers in Ousmane Dembele on the right and talisman Kylian Mbappe on the left. Both are young, tricky, and exceedingly fast, with many considering the 23-year-old Mbappe the world’s best player. France will get these two on the ball as often as possible, after the centre-backs distribute to the midfielders. Dembele will likely have Jules Kounde join him down the right. Kounde is more of a centre-back playing right-back, so we don’t expect him to be too adventurous. However, this is balanced with the attacking impetus of the more advanced Theo Hernandez on the left. Deschamps might have preferred to play with two defensive options at full-back, but Theo’s brother Lucas’s injury in their first game put paid to that notion.
Dembele will be a massive threat on the right, using his pace and dribbling to either get down the line or cut inside to shoot. Mbappe should be an even more significant threat on the left with Hernandez supporting him. Indeed, the two linked up to great effect for the opening goal against Denmark. Mbappe will use his searing pace, incredible dribbling ability, and x-factor to give Polish right-back Matty Cash a torrid time in France vs Poland. Cash is an attacking full-back, but he will likely be pinned back for much of this match, as if he is too bold, he will risk Mbappe completely exposing the left channel as Cash goes forward. Mbappe, Hernandez, and Dembele are thus the key to opening up this Polish side. They will also look to play crosses to Olivier Giroud in the middle to head the ball. The tall striker is tremendous in the air but also good on the ground. He will look to link with the wide men and Griezmann as they use their clever movement to confuse the Polish organisation.
Poland must try to get forward, but it will not be easy. Przemyslaw Frankowski and the young Jakub Kaminski are decent players but not in the same stratosphere as the French wingers in terms of talent. Cash and Bartosz Bereszynski will likely have to defend for long spells of the match, nullifying any threat they can pose in the attack. This situation will limit the number of crosses they can play to Lewandowski. Zielinski, too, may have to drop back often, meaning Lewandowski could see himself isolated again, as in the first three games. The Poles must be brave when they can. On the opportunities they have to transition, Bielik and Krychowiak can remain disciplined and fill the holes to allow the full-backs to support the attack. For the Poles, it is a waiting game – they will try to contain France and carefully select their moments to try to steal the ball and quickly counter and nick a goal. Poland have been ultra-negative throughout this tournament. If possible, they must show a bit more attacking threat here or risk allowing France to come on to them and decimate their team.
Replacements will be even more critical in the tournament’s knockout phase, with players injured, suspended or fatigued, and potentially extra time happening. Teams’ subs made much impact in the group stage, with five allowed, and they could be crucial again here. France have much depth. Benjamin Pavard could start or come on at right-back for Jules Kounde. William Saliba and Ibrahima Konate are further options in the heart of the defence, especially as Raphael Varane has been struggling with injury. Talented youngsters Eduardo Camavinga and Youssouf Fofana can refresh the midfield. Kingsley Coman is a tricky winger in the vein of Dembele and Mbappe, who can replace the former (and has been in the tournament already). Poland have far fewer quality options than France. However, they can bring on Sebastian Szymanski if one of the central midfielders tires. Michal Skoras can come on out wide. Karol Swiderski, Arkadiusz Milik, and Krzysztof Piatek are options in attack to give Lewandowski more support.
France Key Players
Hernandez is France’s most natural full-back and their most creative. Therefore, while he will be expected to adhere to his defensive duties, he will also be tasked with getting forward and supporting Mbappe. Hernandez has an excellent left foot and is great at getting up and down the pitch. His driving runs, dribbling, and creative movement, both in overlapping and in staying deeper to link with Mbappe, will be helpful. Indeed, Mbappe can use his runs as a decoy. Hernandez is also a fantastic high and low crosser of the ball, and this could be a tremendous asset with Giroud in the middle. Defensively, he must try to cut out any runs Cash makes. He must also be wary of Frankowski and watch for Zielinski drifting to overload that side when Poland have the ball.
What more can be said about Mbappe that has not already been said? He has yet to hit his prime, which is a scary prospect as he is already an incredible player. He will look to pin back Cash in this game, attacking the full-back relentlessly and keeping him guessing whether he will go left or right. He will often look to cut inside to shoot and test Wojciech Szczesny or link up with Hernandez at other times. He will also make runs inside from out wide to get on the end of crosses from the right. Mbappe’s pace is frightening, as is his dribbling ability. He possesses the x-factor to win the France vs Poland match, or any match for that matter.
Poland Key Players
Szczesny has been in superb shot-stopping ability in this tournament so far. Indeed, he has saved penalties from Salem Al-Dawsari and Lionel Messi already (as well as making an incredible rebound save after the Saudi Arabian’s effort). We expect France to create several chances, so the Polish goalkeeper must have all of his reflexes on show if Poland are to have any chance of causing a shock in this game. He will likely face shots and headers from Mbappe and Giroud in particular, and his ability to make saves at point-blank range could be crucial. He will also hope to distribute the ball well to stop France from retaining possession too often. However, his ability to keep France out will be his priority here.
Lewandowski is playing with players far below his level, other than two or three. Therefore, it is understandable that he looks visibly frustrated often, playing in attack in this Poland side. The set-up is often negative, which doesn’t play to the Polish forward’s strengths. He often looks isolated and with no support. However, given his excellent hold-up play, he does an admirable job at making something out of little service. Lewandowski hopes he can receive more help in this match. He is not like prime Lionel Messi or Diego Maradona; he won’t dribble past five players and score. If Lewandowski can receive through balls and crosses, the Pole has the positioning, intelligence, and composure to finish chances. He must be clinical, as Poland will likely have few clear-cut opportunities.
France vs Poland Prediction
France vs Poland seems like a straightforward game to predict. The World Champions were scintillating in the group stage, apart from the final match where they rested most of the first team. With their leading men coming back in, we expect them to make this match comfortable against an uninspiring Poland team. If the Poles do change shape to four at the back, they might show more intent and aim to be more attacking. Then again, they might sit back and passively allow France to have the ball. In that case, France are more than capable of playing through them, especially using wingers Mbappe and Dembele. We expect Poland to play similarly to how they did against Argentina. We have said they must press more aggressively, but we don’t think they will; they will likely play a containing game and hope to transition when France over-commit and lose the ball. A smash and grab, if you will. France will have the majority of possession and look to break down a stubborn Polish rearguard, and they should have far too much. This World Cup has been one of shocks, but we don’t envisage one happening here.
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