France lock horns with Poland on Sunday in what is expected to be a mouthwatering Round of 16-tie of the 2022 World Cup at Al Thumama Stadium, as a place in the quarter-finals awaits.
Les Blues won their opening two Group D fixtures against Australia and Denmark to qualify for the knockout rounds of the World Cup. This gave head coach Didier Deschamps to heavily rotate his squad for their final Group D fixture against Tunisia, but the French team fell to a shock 1-0 defeat at Education City Stadium in Doha.
A quick turnaround between games means France must dust down themselves and be ready for the challenge of Poland, who finish second in Group C behind Argentina.
Lucas Hernandez has been ruled out of the rest of the World Cup with an ACL rupture sustained against Australia.
French stars such as Kylian Mbappe, Ousmane Dembele, Adrien Rabiot, Antoine Griezmann and Olivier Giroud were rested against Tunisia, although bar Giroud, all the others were introduced in the second half as Deschamps’ side chased the game.
Hugo Lloris should resume his goalkeeping duties after being rested against Tunisia. Being the skipper of the French national team, he will have to lead his troops by example and deliver the goods when called into action.
Raphael Varane is expected to be the only survivor in the backline from the shock defeat to Tunisia. He will partner Dayot Upamecano at the heart of France’s backline, with Jules Kounde and Theo Hernandez operating from the right-back and left-back positions, respectively.
The French defensive unit will have to stay organised throughout the 90 minutes to keep Robert Lewandowski and co. at bay on Sunday.
Aurelien Tchouameni started each of France’s three group-stage fixtures and is a certainty to keep his place in the team for the crunch Round of 16 tie against Poland. The Real Madrid starlet will form the double pivot with Adrien Rabiot as the duo look to dominate Poland in the middle of the park.
Antoine Griezmann gives the French team energy, invention and movement on and off the ball from the No.10 position, making him one of the first names on Deschamps’ team sheet.
The likes of Jordan Veretout, Mateo Guendouzi and Eduardo Camavinga could come off the bench in the second half to add more bite and muscle in midfield when required.
Joint top-scorer in the race for the Golden Boot with three goals in as many games, Kylian Mbappe is a certainty to start in France’s attack. The PSG star is more than capable of winning games on his own, making him one of the best players in world football. He will start on the left, with Ousmane Dembele raring to put in a productive display off the right flank.
Leading the French attack will be none other than Olivier Giroud, who has two goals at the ongoing World Cup and will be keen to get himself on the scoresheet against Poland.