NFL News & Analysis

FIFA World Cup 2022 Preview: France Vs. Poland — December 4, 2022

Doha, Qatar; Poland forward Robert Lewandowski (9) moves the ball ahead of Argentina defender Nahuel Molina (26) during the first half in a group stage match during the 2022 World Cup at Stadium 974. Mandatory Credit: Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY Sports

France will welcome back their rested stars as they take on Poland at the Al-Thumama Stadium in Sunday's Last of 16 showdown.

Both teams enter the knockout stages off the back of defeats in their previous matches, with a second-string France side shocked by Tunisia while Argentina dominated Poland.

France Key Player: Kylian Mbappé, France

As one of nine players rested by head coach Didier Deschamps for the Tunisia match, Mbappé is set to return to the starting 11.

The Paris Saint-Germain star is tied with Jamal Musiala for the most attempted dribbles at the tournament (30) despite playing 40 minutes less than the German midfielder. 

Mbappé will be up against Poland full-back Matty Cash, who has defended just 17% of the dribbles he has faced so far — an underwhelming figure, to say the least. 

 Poland Key Player: Wojciech Szczęsny

The Poland No. 1 has saved 90% of the shots on target he has faced, the best mark of all goalkeepers at the World Cup, acting as a sound safety net for a defense that has allowed the second-most shots (53). Only Costa Rica’s Keylor Navas has had to deal with more attempts on goal (63).

Matchup to watch: Robert Lewandowski vs. France’s central defenders

Led up front by the Barcelona striker, Poland will have to be much more ambitious in attack if they are to test France's defense, having recorded only five shots on target so far. And that tally is the fewest of any Last 16 nations, but Lewandowski’s 2.02 expected goals (xG) is bettered only by Argentina’s Lionel Messi (2.24) among all forwards in Qatar.

Who Deschamps will select to contain the threat of Lewandowski appears less of a known entity than other areas of his team. A different partnership has started in each match so far, with Ibrahima Konaté, Raphaël Varane and Dayot Upamecano each starting in two of the three group-stage matches for the reigning champions, who are yet to record a clean sheet.

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