Three more. Three games for a third star. If the course is still long, the Blues give themselves the right to dream. By beating Robert Lewandowski’s Poland 3 goals to 1, this Sunday, December 4, Didier Deschamps’ men join the quarter-finals of the World Cup in Qatar, and confirm their status as favorites.
For this round of 16, Didier Deschamps trusted the eleven men who beat Denmark (2 goals to 1) in the group stage. Jules Koundé and Raphaël Varane were therefore well established and the attacking quartet composed of Dembélé, Griezmann, Mbappé and Giroud, renewed.
If the first half was, in possession, to the advantage of the Blues, the Polish attackers gave cold sweats to the French defense. First by a bad back pass from defender Dayot Upamecano towards his goalkeeper Hugo Lloris (5th minute), then by a save from this same Lloris followed by a save in extremis from Raphaël Varane, on his line, at the end of a sequence of “billiards” in the three-color penalty area.
Giroud only top scorer
Stirred, the Blues pulled themselves together immediately and continued to attack. The accelerations of Kylian Mbappé and Ousmane Dembélé bent an aging Polish defense, without breaking it. Very quickly, we guessed that the fate of the match would begin to take shape in the second half, as the stakes seemed to paralyze both teams. France and Poland did not manage to relax completely.
Then came Olivier Giroud. On a millimeter pass from Kylian Mbappé, the French number 9 managed to deceive the Polish goalkeeper Wojciech Szczęsny, with a nice shot, just before the break (44th minute). By scoring his 52nd goal for the France team, the AC Milan striker frees his team and at the same time becomes the best scorer in the history of the Blues, ahead of Thierry Henry.
Blue dominance, deserved victory
In the second period, the Blues established their domination. In search of a second goal to ensure their qualification, Didier Deschamps’ men multiplied the attacks on the left and right flanks, playing on the speed of the attackers. After a cross from the right, the Polish goalkeeper Szczesny and Raphaël Varane remain on the ground, after a big contact in the air. Olivier Giroud scores – again – with an acrobatic gesture of which he has the secret, but too late, the referee had already whistled. Invalid goal.
Reassembled, the Blues do not stop there. They want to score. Above all, they want to avoid an unfortunate twist of fate, where the clearly dominated Poles would take advantage of a favorable counter to equalize. This was the case during the last Euro, against Switzerland, twice.
The France team knows its history well enough to protect itself. So much so that in the 75th minute, after an overflow from Ousmane Dembélé, Kylian Mbappé recovers the ball. He takes his time, adjusts his strike and seals the fate of the Poles, with a sure gesture (74th). Skylight. The mark of the greats.
The score will not stop there. Because Mbappé is hungry. His talent had burst into the eyes of the whole world, in 2018 in Russia, at the same stage of the competition against Argentina. Four years later, Kylian Mbappé is still not satisfied and probably needs to remind the football world of what caliber of players he belongs to. Served by Marcus Thuram, he gets on his right foot before striking. His ball arrives again in the skylight, but this time in the opposite skylight (89th).
The spell is sealed. The Poland team never seemed able to compete with their opponent of the day. The penalty obtained in stoppage time, initially missed by Robert Lewandowski then removed, and scored, will remain anecdotal. Enough to save honor for the valiant Poles.
In the quarter-finals, the reigning world champions will face the winner of the England – Senegal match (this Sunday, December 4 at 8 p.m.), to try to reach the last four for the seventh time in their history.