France eliminates Lewandowski and Poland with Giroud and Mbappe.
Olivier Giroud and Kylian Mbappe scored to help France beat Poland 3-1 in Qatar. Hugo Lloris moved too early to save Robert Lewandowski’s first stoppage-time penalty, giving Poland a late consolation.
Poland, which advanced to the round of 16 ahead of Mexico on goal difference, couldn’t stop the world champions’ attack despite coming close in the first half. France overcame a poor start to beat England or Senegal in the quarterfinals.
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1. Giroud scores again, France advances
Olivier Giroud is France’s all-time leading scorer after a round-of-16 win over Poland. The 36-year-old AC Milan forward’s first-half goal, after Kylian Mbappe’s pass, propelled him above Thierry Henry as France’s most prolific scorer.
Henry, Zinedine Zidane, Nicolas Anelka, Michel Platini, Jean-Pierre Papin are all French attacking greats. Giroud has more than them all but fights for attention. Didier Deschamps knows what the former Arsenal and Chelsea striker contributes to the France team, especially after Karim Benzema’s injury. Giroud’s experience, maturity, ability to link play and handle the ball, and wise head help younger forwards.
Giroud will be as big a problem for France as Mbappe against England or Senegal. Every side fears Mbappe’s speed and goal danger, but Giroud will take every chance in the penalty area. Underestimating Giroud might kill an opponent’s World Cup hopes.
2. France reaches the final eight, but injuries could prevent a triumph.
Champions-defending France reached the quarterfinals without hitting full gear, which is a good indication for Deschamps and his squad. But maybe not, as France’s key player injuries are limiting the team’s potential.
Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante were long-term absentees when Deschamps picked his Qatar squad. Losing these two vital midfielders from Russia 2018 was always going to be difficult. After landing in Qatar, France lost Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema and fullback Lucas Hernandez. Benzema is irreplaceable, despite Olivier Giroud’s good play. France are in the final eight despite losing two world-class midfielders and 2022’s top striker.
They’ve gotten it thus far without meeting a top club, but soon their injuries will start to hurt. It could decide whether they retain the World Cup or lose to the first good team.
3. Poland: excellent attacker and keeper, little else
Poland reached the knockout stages for the first time since 1986, but this match against France was always expected to be their last. Poland is an ordinary squad with a world-class striker in Robert Lewandowski and a top-class goalkeeper in Wojciech Szczesny.
Without Lewandowski and Szczesny, it’s hard to envision Poland qualifying for or advancing in the World Cup. So the problem facing the Poles now is how they adjust to a future without Lewandowski who, at 34, is highly unlikely to be around at the 2026 World Cup.
He might not even make it to Euro 2024. Poland isn’t the only country with a superstar. Wales with Gareth Bale, and Argentina without Lionel Messi. Poland is a great football nation with a proud past, but they need a new Lewandowski.
France: Hugo Lloris 7; Jules Kounde 6; Raphael Varane 7; Dayot Upamecano 7; Theo Hernandez 6; Adrien Rabiot 6; Ousmane Dembele 6; Antoine Griezmann 6; Olivier Giroud 8; Kylian Mbappe 9.
Youssouf Fofana, Kingsley Coman, Marcus Thuram, Axel Disasi.
Robert Lewandowski 7, Wojciech Szczesny 7, Matty Cash 7, Kamil Glik 6, Bartosz Bereszynski 6, Jakub Kiwior 6, Grzegorz Krychowiak 6, Jakub Kaminski 6, Sebastian Szymanski 6, Piotr Zielinski 6, Przemyslaw Frankowski 6
Arkadiusz Milik, Krystian Bielik, Nicola Zalewski, Kamil Grosicki.
After scoring twice against Poland, France’s forward has five goals at Qatar 2022. He sometimes looked better than the other players.
The France winger is fast and talented, but his final ball lets him down.
Mbappe’s assist helped Giroud become France’s all-time leading scorer.
Mbappe scored again to put the game out of reach for Poland.
Giroud is the oldest player to score in a World Cup knockout-stage encounter since Cameroon’s Roger Milla (38 years, 1 month) scored two goals against Colombia in 1990.
– Hugo Lloris equals Lilian Thuram for most senior national team appearances (142).
Olivier Giroud surpasses Thierry Henry as France’s all-time leading scorer (52).
– Kylian Mbappé (FRA) has eight career World Cup goals, passing Pelé before turning 24.
Kylian Mbappé has the most goal assists since the 2018 World Cup (10).
– Kylian Mbappé’s third multi-goal World Cup game. Just Fontaine (FRA), Miroslav Klose (GER), Ronaldo (BRA), and Sandor Kocsis have more multigoal games (HUN). Four each.
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