DOHA, December 3
Most of France’s talk ahead of their last-16 stage clash with Poland has been about how Les Bleus will handle Robert Lewandowski, but the defending champions are well aware there is much more to the Poles than their big-name striker.
Lewandowski is indeed a deadly weapon up front, but Poland are a very compact side with another major asset at the other end of the pitch in keeper Wojciech Szczesny, who has already stopped two penalties.
Across his career, Szczesny has saved 26 of 87 penalties and it is safe to say that France will be desperate to avoid a shootout at the Al Thumama stadium tomorrow.
“They’ve had to defend a lot in the group stage and they defended very well. Actually they love it, but they’re not just a defensive team – just look at who they have up front,” coach Didier Deschamps told a news conference today. “But there’s more. They have a backbone of players with great international experience, with Kamil Glik, Piotr Zielinski, Grzegorz Krychowiak and some youngsters who have shown they were up to the task. They deserve to be here.”
Poland have only had five shots on target in three games, but three of them came from Lewandowski, who only needs half a chance to find the back of the net.
France’s ideal scenario will be to contain the Barcelona forward and avoid ending the game on penalties, which are certainly not keeper Hugo Lloris’s cup of tea. Lloris has only stopped 16 of the 108 spot-kicks he has faced in his career. — Reuters
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