Didier Deschamps makes nine changes from Tunisia and returns to the XI that beat Denmark eight days ago. Raphael Varane and Aurelien Tchouameni are the only men who started on Wednesday.
Polish national coach Czeslaw Michniewicz makes two changes compared to the team that lost to Argentina. Sebastian Szymanski and Jakub Kaminski replace Krystian Bielik and Karol Swiderski, which could mean a switch to a back five.
France (4-2-3-1) Loris; Kounde, Varane, Upamecano, T Hernandez; Tchouameni, Rabiot; Dembele, Griezmann, Mbappe; Giroud.
Substitutes: Mandanda, Areola, Pavard, Disasi, Guendouzi, Kolo Muani, Fofana, Veretout, Saliba, Coman, Konate, Camavinga, Thuram.
Poland (possibly 5-2-2-1) Szczesny; Cash, Bereszynski, Kiwior, Glik, Frankowski; S Szymanski, Krychowiak; Zielinski, Kaminski; Lewandowski.
Substitutes: Skorupski, Grabara, Jedrzejczyk, Wieteska, Bednarek, Bielik, Milik, D Szymanski, Grosicki, Swiderski, Zurkowski, Zalewski, Piatek, Gumny, Skoras.
Referee Jesus Valenzuela Saez (Venezuela)
The best way to achieve greatness is to hold onto something. OK, no eachthing. Nobody put Modena in the pantheon when they won the Anglo-Italian Cup in 1981 and 1982. But the World Cup, that’s the ultimate. It has only been retained twice, by Italy in 1938 and Brazil in 1962, and no team has come close since the turn of the century.
To win the World Cup twice in a row is not a sane argument, and that is what France hopes to achieve in the next two weeks. Qualifying for the knockout rounds is one big get started. Incredibly, and for once I’m not using that word wrong, four of the previous five holders went out in the group stage, including France in 2002. Don’t try to understand; just file it under F,BH.
Even without half a dozen of their best players, France, and Kylian Mbappé in particular, looked ominous beating Australia and Denmark. Their reserve side lost to Tunisia on Wednesday, although there is a reassuring precedent for this. At Euro 2000, France’s B team lost its third group match to the Netherlands; the A team won the tournament.
France’s path to victory in Qatar was complicated by Spain’s defeat to Japan this week. They may now have to beat England, Spain and Argentina or Brazil to win the trophy. But first, Des, they have to take care of Poland. That part feels straightforward, although we said the same thing before they lost to Switzerland at the same stage of Euro 2020.
Still, Poland looks ripe for evisceration after qualifying for the last 16 with their tail between their legs. It feels like they lost today’s game on Wednesday night. They were heavily criticized for their passive, pragmatic defeat to Argentina, and that sort of thing can destroy morale. Who knew good behavior could be so regrettable?
kick off 3pm GMT, 6pm in Al Thumama, 4pm in Paris and Warsaw. The winners play England or Senegal in the final quarter-final on Saturday night.