France and Poland will start off the second matchday in the Round of 16 stage at the Al Thumama Stadium on Sunday evening.
Both teams will look to return to winning ways after losing their last group matches.
France had already won the group before they lost 1-0 to Tunisia. But Poland had to go through some anxious minutes after falling 2-0 to Argentina.
Mexico were 2-0 up against Saudi Arabia with about a few minutes left on the clock. Mexico would have gone through if they could have added two more within that time. But they conceded one instead, much to the relief of the Polish camp.
With knockout stage qualification already in the bag, France boss Didier Deschamps shuffled his pack to rest his key players.
But he had to throw Kylian Mbappé, Antoine Griezmann, Ousmane Dembélé, and Adrien Rabiot into the mix later as Tunisia went 1-0 up just before the hour mark. But they failed to cut the deficit.
Thankfully, the defeat did not derail Les Bleus’ World Cup ambitions.
They stayed on top of the group and avoided Group C champions in the next stage of the competition. This is the first time France qualified for three back-to-back World Cup knockout stages in their history.
Having successfully overcome the champions curse that haunted the past three defending champions, France will be confident to reach the last eight of the tournament at Poland’s expense.
Poland did knock France out of the World Cup in the past. But that happened 40 years ago in the 1982 World Cup. They did not manage to beat the Central Western European nation since then.
Apart from history, Czesław Michniewicz will also be worried about his team’s goalscoring abilities.
Poland did not bring their best shooting boots in Qatar as they had only five shots on target so far. One of those were a missed Robert Lewandowski penalty and three came against Saudi Arabia.
Chances should be few and far between for Poland on Sunday.
So, they need their frontline to make them count. With attacking talents like Robert Lewandowski, Piotr Zieliński and Arkadiusz Milik at their disposal, Poland can hope to give the French rearguard a run for their money.
Deschamps will not lose sleep with fresh injury worries.
Backup keeper Alphonse Areola will be back on the bench after recovering from a back injury.
Theo Hernández picked up an ankle injury, but unlike his brother Lucas, his World Cup dreams are still alive. The AC Milan man is set to feature in the starting XI against Poland.
Czesław Michniewicz also have no injury concerns ahead of the tie.
But six players in his squad could be suspended for the quarter finals, if they pick up a booking against France.
That should not play a big role in team selection as Michniewicz will look to deploy his strongest possible XI against the reigning world champions.
Poland’s frontline has mostly struggled in the tournament because of inadequate supply from the midfield.
They might feel the pipeline even more choked when they come against the French midfield.
It should be a simple 2-0 win for France.
Date: 4 December
Kickoff Time: 8:30 PM IST
Venue: Al Thumama Stadium