Al Thumama, Qatar – France progressed to the quarter-finals of the World Cup in Qatar with Olivier Giroud and Kylian Mbappe scoring in a 3-1 victory over Poland. Robert Lewandowski’s injury-time penalty – taken twice due to goalkeeper Hugo Lloris moving in early to save the first penalty – was a late consolation for the Poles.
World Cup 2022: News and Features | schedule | the difference
Poland, who had finished in the last 16 ahead of Mexico on goal difference, did not respond to the world champions’ attacking talents, despite coming close to opening the scoring in the first half. But after a slow start to the match, France eventually equalized to book a quarter-final match against either England or Senegal.
1. Giroud does it again as France reaches the quarter-finals
Olivier Giroud is now alone as France’s all-time leading scorer after setting the world champions on their way to last-16 victory over Poland. The 36-year-old Milan striker’s goal in the first half, when he latched onto Kylian Mbappe’s pass before firing with his left foot past Polish goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny, was his 52nd goal. Les Blues And it made him move away from Thierry Henry as his country’s most productive scorer.
France has produced some amazing attacking talents over the years – Henry, Zinedine Zidane, Nicolas Anelka, Michel Platini, Jean-Pierre Papin, to name a few. Jerrod has more than all of them yet continues to struggle with being recognized as worthy of his accomplishments. But although the former Arsenal and Chelsea striker is underrated by many, Didier Deschamps knows exactly what to bring to the French side, especially now that Karim Benzema’s injury has ruled him out of the tournament. In addition to his goals, Giroud brings experience, maturity, ability to tie up play, hold the ball and a wise header to the younger attackers around him.
Whoever France faces in the quarter-finals – England or Senegal – Giroud will be as much of a problem as the amazing Mbappe. Every team fears Mbappe’s speed and goal threat, but give Giroud a chance anywhere in the penalty area and he will take advantage of it. Any opponent who underestimates Giro could see his World Cup dreams extinguished by him.
2. France has reached the quarter-finals, but injuries may prevent them from winning it
Defending champions France reached the quarter-finals without even coming close to reaching their highest level so far in the competition, so that’s a good sign for Deschamps and his players as there seems to be more to come. But maybe there wasn’t that, and maybe all the injuries to France’s key players are starting to hit the team’s ability to reach the heights they are capable of.
Deschamps was already without long-term absentees Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante when he named his squad to Qatar, and the loss of the two midfielders, who were key figures at Russia 2018, was hard to beat. But the loss of Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema and full-back Lucas Hernandez following his arrival To Qatar hurt France more. Benzema, for example, is irreplaceable, despite Olivier Giroud’s impressive performance as his replacement. So, after losing two of the world’s best midfielders and most in-form strikers in 2022, France are teetering on to the quarter-finals.
They’ve come this far without facing a top team, but now they’re at the end of their tournament action, and injuries to their best players will start to show. It could end up being the difference between retaining the World Cup or losing to the first good team they face.
3. Poland: A good striker and goalkeeper, but not much else
Poland reached the knockout stages for the first time since 1986 at the World Cup finals, but this encounter with France always seemed likely to signal the end of the road for Czeslaw Michniewicz’s side. Quite simply, Poland is nothing more than a very ordinary team that has a world class striker Robert Lewandowski and a first class goalkeeper in Wojciech Szczesny.
Without Lewandowski and Juventus goalkeeper Szczesny, it is difficult to see Poland qualifying for the World Cup, let alone qualifying from the group stage. So the problem facing the Poles now is how to cope with a future without Lewandowski, who, at 34, is unlikely to be around for the 2026 World Cup.
He may not even reach Euro 2024. Poland is not alone in relying on one star. Wales is the same with Gareth Bale, and even Argentina would struggle to succeed in the World Cup without Lionel Messi. Poland is a big football nation with a proud history, but unless they can discover a new Lewandowski, the future doesn’t look so bright.
France: Hugo Lloris 7; Jules Conde 6, Raphael Varane 7, Dayot Upamecano 7, Theo Hernandez 6; Adrien Rabiot 6, Aurelian Tchouameni 6; Ousmane Dembele 6, Antoine Griezmann 6, Olivier Giroud 8, Kylian Mbappe 9.
Submarines: Youssouf Fofana 7, Kingsley Coman 6, Marcus Thuram 6, Axel Desassi 6.
Poland: Wojciech Szczesny 7; Matty Cash 7, Kamil Glik 6, Bartosz Bereszynski 6, Jakub Kiwior 6; Grzegorz Krychowiak 6, Jakub Kaminski 6, Sebastian Szymanski 6, Piotr Zielinski 6, Przemyslaw Frankowski 6; Robert Lewandowski 7.
Submarines: Arkadiusz Milik 6, Krystian Bielik 6, Nicola Zalewski 6, Kamil Grosicki 6.
The best and worst performers
The best: Kylian Mbappe
The French striker now has five goals in his hands at Qatar 2022 after scoring twice against Poland. He seemed to be on a different level than the rest of the players on the field at times.
worst: Ousmane Dembele
The French winger has plenty of speed and talent, but his finishing touches in key areas often send him down.
Highlights and notable moments
Mbappe made an assist for Giroud to score the goal that made the veteran top scorer in France’s history.
Take another look at the goal that made him the all-time top scorer for the France men’s national team pic.twitter.com/ud7UqwZKP4
– FOX Soccer (FOX Soccer) December 4, 2022
Mbappe then went on to give France a two-goal protection and put the match out of reach for the Poles.
It was just a matter of time 🔥
Mbappe makes it 2-0 to France 🎯 pic.twitter.com/1vA2MFjR82
– FOX Soccer (FOX Soccer) December 4, 2022
Kylian Mbappe has now scored 16 goals in his last 14 matches for France. Two incredible finishes today. 5 goals already in the current World Cup. 9 out of 11 World Cup matches overall. 33 goals in 63 caps and he’s still only 23 years old. It’s unbelievable!
– Julien Laurens (LaurensJulien) December 4, 2022
After the match: What the players and managers said
Quotes to come…
Key stats (courtesy of ESPN Stats & Info)
– Giroud, at 36 years, 3 months, is the oldest player to score in a World Cup knockout match since Cameroon’s Roger Milla (38 years, 1 month) scored twice against Colombia in the Round of 16 in 1990.
Hugo Lloris tied with Lilian Thuram for the most matches for the French men’s senior team (142).
– Olivier Giroud beats Thierry Henry with the most goals for the French senior international men’s team (52).
– Kylian Mbappe (France): Eight goals in her career in the World Cup finals, and Pele passes more than one player in the competition before he was 24 years old.
Since the 2018 World Cup, Kylian Mbappe leads all players in goals (10).
– This is Kylian Mbappe’s third match in the World Cup. The only players to have appeared in multiple World Cup matches are Just Fontaine (France), Miroslav Klose (Germany), Ronaldo (Brazil) and Sandor Kochis (Hon). Each has four.
France: France will advance to the quarter-finals and will face the winner from England versus Senegal.
Poland: With the loss, Lewandowski & Co. are knocked out of the 2022 World Cup and will be eyeing UEFA Euro qualifiers in the spring.