Even despite six of their potential pre-tournament starters now missing, France continue to be one of the most electric sides at the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Supercharged by the vibrancy in attack of Kylian Mbappé and masterfully supported by Antoine Griezmann and Olivier Giroud – France’s front four quartet work together wonderfully to bring out the best in one another. The French put on a dominant display on Sunday, rolling to a rollicking 3-1 win over the Poles in the Round of 16. Here is our match analysis.
FRANCE – 4-2-3-1Embed from Getty Images
Didier Deschamps’ team lined up in their favoured 4-2-3-1 formation, with Antoine Griezmann operating as the ’10’, bouncing off the ‘Target Man’ of Olivier Giroud and the direct goal-scoring power of Kylian Mbappé. Aurélien Tchouaméni had a dominant afternoon in the centre of the park to help dictate much of France’s positive possession, while Dayot Upamecano matched up nicely against a man he will be well familiar with – his Bayern teammate Robert Lewandowski. So even despite the likes of Lucas Hernandez, Presnel Kimpembe and N’Golo Kanté out for the tournament, France’s dominance shone through every step of the way within their formation.
Perhaps most interestingly from a tactical standpoint, France compacted excellently well in defense in a way that allowed Dembélé, Giroud and Mbappé to remain high into the attack (particularly Mbappe and Giroud), as Griezmann held down Poland’s central attacking spaces, and the central midfielders saw greater responsibility for covering wide. Griezmann thrived in this defensive role, completely shutting down ‘Zone 14’ on numerous occasions to stop the Poles from breaking through the middle. It was he who cleared the ball away inside the penalty area on a dangerous attack shortly before France went on the break and scored that vital second goal.Embed from Getty Images
This created a double-edged sword for Poland in their attacking endeavours. The fullbacks could rummage forward and seek open space in the attack, but the further forward they roamed, the more room they allowed the likes of Mbappé and Dembélé to explode on the break. Given Giroud’s deft touch and exceptional ability to hold up the ball, the French can always be destructive in transition. So as Cash found himself in space and sought moments to get beyond Rabiot and Mbappé, he also left his side of the field completely exposed for the PSG forward to smash the Poles on the break. This is exactly how France scored the goal that would ultimately kill off the game for 2-0.
POLAND – 4-1-4-1Embed from Getty Images
Poland, as expected, set up to defend against Didier Deschamps’ team in a 4-1-4-1 defensive block. That became more 4-5-1 in their lowest of blocks, and they shuffled and compacted themselves well inside the first half to limit the French from finding space. Kylian Mbappé had a few nice moments where he used his electricity to shock Matty Cash, but the Aston Villa fullback also had a few nice moments where he defended excellently in transition to shepherd the ball away.Embed from Getty Images
Even despite Poland’s attempts, a goal always felt like it would be on its way, and Wojciech Szczęsny had to be on top of his game. The Juve keeper commanded his penalty area and supported his own aerially strong centre-backs in stopping crosses into the box from finding Giroud, but nothing could stop the brilliance of Mbappé and Giroud leading up to the Frenchman’s record-breaking goal.Embed from Getty Images
From there, it was a game of cat and mouse for the Poles. If they attacked down the wings and exposed France’s lack of defensive cover in those wider areas, they simultaneously left themselves more vulnerable on the break. The addition of Marcus Thuram was only going to make this more difficult once Cash tired, bringing fresh legs to the left as Mbappe went through the middle.Embed from Getty Images
Even then, the Poles just could not find a steady spell of possession where they were able to break France’s 4-2-3-1 high-block. Jakub Kiwior went long on a few occasions to no avail, and the attacking midfielders had to drift deeper and deeper to have any shot of picking up possession. Piotr Zieliński had a few decent moments where he could show glimpses of on the ball superiority, but he always found himself quickly closed down by France’s numbers around the ball in the centre of the park. Poland were lucky to grab a goal in the end off a handball, as they could never fully get a grip of full fluency throughout the ninety.
CONCLUDING THOUGHTSEmbed from Getty Images
France now enter the Quarter Finals as a frightening opposition for either England or Senegal to face, with Kylian Mbappé in equally frightening form – the current leader in the scoring race. Poland played well enough to limit France’s potency throughout the opening 70 minutes, but as they tired, France only kicked on to new heights. The Poles will be in need of a few upgrades in four years time if they are to fare better throughout the thirds, while France just seem to never stop generating new talent, and could go on to win successive tournaments from here.
So there it is! Our match analysis of France’s 3-1 win over Poland in the Round of 16 of the 2022 World Cup. Be sure to check out more tactical analyses and more from the World Cup, as the attention soon turns toward the Quarter Final. Thanks for reading and see you soon!
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