France must navigate Poland roadblock

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2022 FIFA World Cup

Last 16

France v Poland

Al Thumama Stadium
Doha, Qatar
Sunday, 4 December 2022
Kick-off is at 15h00  
France will look to take a step closer to defending their World Cup title when they lock horns with Poland in the last 16 on Sunday, December 4.
The 2018 champions made a positive start to the tournament by beating Australia 4-1 in their Group D opener before claiming a 2-1 victory over Denmark.
Didier Deschamps' side then suffered a controversial 1-0 defeat to Tunisia on Wednesday, November 30, although they still managed to finish top of their group.
Trailing to Wahbi Khazri's 58th-minute goal, Les Bleus thought they had snatched a dramatic late equaliser when Antoine Griezmann fired home in the eighth minute of stoppage time.

Antoine Griezmann
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However, the goal was eventually ruled out for offside after a lengthy VAR check despite the game having been restarted and the referee blowing for full-time.
Deschamps defended his decision to leave the likes of Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe, Ousmane Dembele and Hugo Lloris out of the starting line-up against the Eagles of Carthage, declaring that he needed to rest some of his key players.
"We can't tick all the boxes. The first objective was the most important and that was to seal our place in the round of 16," he said. "The 24 players won their first two games and lost the last one, but I need all 24 to be available for me in four days.
"A couple of them have been able to rest up, they will have fresh legs. We were coming out of two high-intensity games. We will play four games in 12 days, we needed a breath of fresh air.
"But we need to do better than we did. Yes, the opponent punished us and gave us a run for our money. I wasn't underestimating the opponent, I wasn't not taking the game seriously, I was thinking about the game that is waiting for us on Sunday."
The Eagles made it out of the group stages for the first time since 1986 despite losing 2-0 to Argentina on matchday 3.
Four points were enough to see them progress from Group C as runners-up after starting with a 0-0 draw against Mexico before securing a 2-0 victory over Saudi Arabia - those two clean sheets proving crucial as they edged El Tri on goal difference.
Czeslaw Michniewicz's team have Lionel Messi to thank after he missed a penalty in the first half which could have resulted in their early exit from the global showpiece.

Robert Lewandowski
Image copyright: Getty Images
Michniewicz admitted it was touch and go as to who would qualify alongside La Albiceleste after Grzegorz Krychowiak received a yellow card in the 78th minute, putting the Poles at risk of missing out due to fair play rules.
"We had an agreement that only me and the technical staff would be across what was happening in the Mexico match," he said.
"My heart stopped a bit when Grzegorz Krychowiak was booked, we knew it was minus three points and fair play was already taken into consideration.
"So Piotr Zielinski was supposed to leave but we substituted Krychowiak because for five minutes we didn't have control of the game and couldn't make the substitution, while he was endangered by the second yellow card.
"My technical staff told me there was only a difference of two or three yellow cards so it was very close. We were at a difficult time when it was 2-0. I told them to avoid stupid cards, we were doing anything to avoid any provocation, avoid talking to referees."


Matches - 16
France - 8
Poland - 3
Draws - 5

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Published: 12/01/2022