The second matchday of the round-of-16 fixtures saw defending champions France take on Poland at the Al Thumama Stadium in the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
France emerged victorious in style, scoring three goals and confirming their seat in the quarterfinals.
Kylian Mbappe and Olivier Giroud were the stars of the occasion, sharing the three goals in a dominant display by the French side.
Didier Deschamps’ French side were coming off the back of a shock defeat to Tunisia in the group stages, but maintained their composure to beat the Polish in what can only be described as a comfortable win.
The Poles did have a couple of chances to score, but were unable to find the back of the net. The French, however, took their chances with aplomb and demonstrated exactly why they are the reigning champions.
Let’s take a look at five hits and flops from the encounter.
Hit #1 – Kylian Mbappe | France vs Poland
It comes as no surprise that Kylian Mbappe was one of the best performers in the match between France and Poland.
The 23-year-old was a key member of France’s World Cup winning squad in 2018 and continues to lead the charge from the front in this edition. He bagged two second-half goals on the night to become the outright leader in the race for the World Cup Golden Boot.
The Paris Saint-Germain player was in impeccable form all night and proved too much to handle for Polish right-back Matty Cash on several occasions. He scored two sublimr goals to take his goal tally to five for this World Cup. Having played just four games so far, Mbappe is certainly on course to break several World Cup records if he keeps his form up.
Hit #2 – Olivier Giroud | France vs Poland
Olivier Giroud opened the scoring for France just before half-time to break one of the most coveted records in French football history.
Giroud came through with a smart finish just before the break to become the outright top goalscorer in France’s history. He came into the game tied with French legend Thierry Henry with 51 goals to his name. His goal tonight was his 52nd, a strike that cemented his name as one of the country’s best-ever strikers.
Giroud has often been on the receiving end of criticism, but has continued to answer his critics by scoring goals. He was unlucky not to score in the previous edition in Russia, but already has three to his name in this edition.
Hit #3 – Przemysław Frankowski | France vs Poland
Przemysław Frankowski was arguably Poland’s best player in their 3-1 defeat by France.
The left winger was faced with the challenging prospect of playing against Jules Kounde on the left wing, but took to the task with aplomb. He was a constant threat on the flank, creating the majority of Poland’s chances.
Frankowski plys his trade for Ligue 1 outfit Lens and has previously represented Chicago Fire in the MLS as well. His pace and trickery often got the better of Jules Kounde, but it was unfortunate that the chances he created were not converted.
Flop #1 – Robert Lewandowski | France vs Poland
Robert Lewandowski delivered an underwhelming performance against France during tonight’s encounter at the Al Thumama Stadium.
Captaining his side in arguably the biggest game of his national career, Lewandowski failed to make any real impact. Widely regarded as one of the best strikers of his generation, there was a lot of expectation on his shoulders and Lewandowski failed to live up to them.
Deployed in his usual position as a centre-forward, Lewandowski did not contribute much to the side’s attack. Despite several crosses coming into the penalty box, Lewandowski was unable to get on the end of them and make an impact on the game.
He did grab a consolation goal in the final minute of the game by converting a spot-kick, but it did not take away from the fact that his performance was lackluster overall.
Flop #2 – Jules Kounde | France vs Poland
Jules Kounde was arguably the biggest underperformer from France’s win against Poland.
Deployed at right-back, Kounde was tasked with keeping Przemysław Frankowski at bay. He was beaten by the Pole on several occasions, who proved to be too tricky for the Frenchman on the night.
The Barcelona man is famed for his consistent performances in defense, but was not up to the task in this game. Kounde misplaced a few passes as well, enabling Poland to force turnovers with speed.
With the prospect of a quarterfinal match against the mighty English, he will certainly have to fare better if France are to retain their World Cup trophy.