Luis Miguel Pascual |
But things are more complex. Poland saw how the Braugrana only managed one goal, while their goalkeeper, Wojciech Szczesny, racked up 90% saves, two penalties saved, a large percentage of responsibility for his team being past the phase of groups 36 years later.
And the French machine, which faces a knockout duel for the first time in a World Cup as world champion, has Mbappé as its main stylus, but fuels it with the essence that Antoine Griezmann, the man who scored the most goalscoring opportunities, is giving it created so far in the World Cup.
Mbappé is set to become the protagonist of the competition, determined to lead his nation to be the first to renew the title since Brazil did it in 1962 and thus place themselves, at just 23 years old, in the path of their Pelé admired.
He already has three goals, but the player is at the helm of a team armed to the teeth, which makes it difficult to sum up his values in one name, no matter how fashionable, capable footballer he is. to change faces. of any team, as demonstrated three days ago against Tunisia.
Injuries have not diverted France from its path and Didier Deschamps has succeeded, despite the injuries, even if they are famous, to build a solid building with which to apply as the undisputed favorite with a mixture of the experience accumulated in 2018 seasoned with touches. of the youth.
This is how they spent the first phase serenely, with two victories against Australia and Denmark full of conviction and brilliance and a holiday against Tunisia, already with their homework done, which serves more to break statistics than to draw conclusions.
As a World Cup is a permanent test, France will now have to show that the rest of its holders give it more freshness before the new test, this time without a parachute because the defeat is no longer subject to appeal.
experience and youth
The stability-loving coach will once again resort to the skeleton that got him here, with a youthful defence, an inexperienced midfielder and an explosive striker.
Will the recipe work? Deschamps thinks so, because he responds to those who accuse him of lacking filming on his back two that all his members work in big clubs, accustomed to high competition, which should serve to meet this challenge.
Jules Koundé, Dayot Upamecano, Théo Hernandez, Adrien Rabiot or Aurélien Tchouaméni must follow the example of Raphaël Varane (he is uncertain due to his physical problems), Griezmann, Mbappé and Olivier Giroud, who is in the running to become the top scorer from the country. story.
In symbiosis, thinks the coach, you have to find virtue. Not now, it’s too soon. Deschamps knows that the mixture must progress so that in the final it gives its best results.
It is Poland’s trump card, to blow up the French meteorite in flight before it reaches cruising speed, the challenge of Czeslaw Michniewicz’s men, who are looking for a surprise that will give their project a legitimacy that they did not find.
Waiting for Lewandowski
The Polish coach is being slaughtered by critics at home and in that rage he is looking to boost a side who have managed just five shots in the World Cup so far, including three from Lewandowski, most of them in the game against Saudi Arabia in which cemented its pass to the eighth.
Waiting for the star to break the spell he has in the World Cups, where he has scored just one goal in six games, unworthy of his statistics, crouching in a team forced to defend.
This is its strength. An iron defense launched by the coach, who took charge of the team last January after the scare of Portuguese Paulo Sosa, and blind faith in the goal of his star, who has so far not regained its renowned efficiency.
Enough to beat the champion? Not if you read Polish newspapers or listen to former stars like Michal Zewlakow or Jerzy Dudek, who considered the performance against Argentina ‘the worst of the whole World Cup’.
But dressing in sheepskin has been a strategy many times in history and Poland, who have never lost to a defending champion, prefer to keep a low profile and rely on Lewandowski’s claw.
– Probable compositions:
France: Lloris; Koundé, Varane, Upamecano, Théo Hernandez; Tchouameni, Rabiot; Griezmann; Dembele, Giroud, Mbappé.
Poland: Szczesny; Cash, Glik, Kiwior, Bereszynski; Krychowiak, Bielik; Kaminski, Zielinski, Frankowski; Lewandowski.
Referee: Jesus Valenzuela (VEN)
Stadium: Al Thumama, Doha
Time: 6:00 p.m. local time (4:00 p.m. CET, 3:00 p.m. GMT).