France defeated Poland 3-1 in the round of 16 in the FIFA World Cup 2022 on Sunday, December 4.
Les Bleus qualified for the knockouts as winners of Group D with six points from their three games. They defeated Australia and Denmark before falling to Tunisia, having already qualified. Didier Deschamps and his men were looking to secure a win to progress further.
Poland, on the other hand, qualified as runners-up from Group C. They finished with four points, two behind group-winners Argentina. Having struggled to score, the Poles were reliant on their defense and goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny, who has played a key role for his nation.
France made a good start to the game and kept possession of the ball slightly more than Poland. They had the ball for 56% of the first half, allowing them to carve out ample opportunities to take a shot on goal. They attempted nine shots in the first period and hit the target five times. Poland, on the other hand, attempted eight shots but only two were on target.
Most of the first period was tightly contested as neither team were willing to allow the other a chance to go ahead. However, France managed to score just before the break. Olivier Giroud finished off a pass from Kylian Mbappe to score his 52nd goal for his country, becoming their all-time top scorer. Les Bleus carried a slender one-goal lead into half-time.
Both teams made a composed start to the second period as both managers turned to their respective benches shortly after the restart. However, it was France who scored the next goal as well. Ousmane Dembele provided an assist for Mbappe to score, doubling Les Bleus lead after 74 minutes. The goal gave them much-needed breathing space.
France killed the game as Mbappe added his second goal in second-half stoppage time to make it 3-0. There was a late incident as Kamil Grosicki was fouled and Poland were awarded a penalty. They missed the first attempt but it was re-taken and Robert Lewandowski stepped up to score a consolation goal.
The game ended in a 3-1 win for France, who will face the winner of the match between England and Senegal. On that note, let's take a look at the five talking points.
#5. Olivier Giroud becomes France's all-time top scorer
Olivier Giroud made headlines last week when he netted a brace in France's win over Australia, leveling Thierry Henry's record of 51 goals. The striker finally had his moment of success today as he became the undisputed top scorer for Les Bleus, netting in the 44th minute off an assist from Mbappe.
With Henry in second place, Michel Platini in fourth place, and other greats like Zinedine Zidane and Just Fontaine in the top 10, it has been no mean feat climbing to the top. Giroud, who first made a name for himself when FC Lorient won Ligue 1 in 2011, has come a long way to achieve this!
#4. Kylian Mbappe is breathing down Giroud's neck already
Kylian Mbappe is just 23 years old but has already scored 33 goals in just 63 appearances for France. He still has almost a decade of football at least before he hangs up his boots, posing the question as to how high can he push the record for others to chase?
Anyone who has followed football in the last five years would be certain that Mbappe will break the record, it is just a matter of when. Barring any severe long-term injuries, he should ideally be within striking distance by the time the next World Cup comes around in 2026.
#3. Poland have been toothless in attack
Poland bowed out of the 2022 FIFA World Cup having scored just two goals in the group stage before their penalty tonight. Robert Lewandowski often had it all to do by himself as he led the line for his country. However, owing to a lack of support, he was unable to score a goal from open play made by his own teammates.
His goal against Saudi Arabia was a mistake by a defender from the opposition, while he was gifted the opportunity to score against France thanks to a penalty.
#2. Despite winning comfortably, France need to be ruthless
France defeated Poland 3-1 in what seemed to be a routine win for Les Bleus. However, there is a fine margin between a win of this nature and a defeat within a matter of minutes.
Les Bleus attempted 16 shots on goal, with eight of those on target. Considering they scored just three goals despite creating those many chances to shoot is worrisome. They still have to face the best teams and could face England in the next round.
Should that happen, Deschamps' men will need to pull their socks up and be ruthless in front of goal to score from their clear-cut chances at least.
#1. France will face the winner of England v Senegal
Le Bleus won the third game of the round of 16 and became the third team to qualify for the quarter-finals of the 2022 FIFA World Cup at Poland's expense. They will face the winner of the fourth game in the round of 16 between England and Senegal later tonight.
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