World Cup picks, odds for Sunday's France-Poland Round of 16 match

by 24USATVDec. 4, 2022, 7:01 a.m. 18
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Kylian Mbappe and Robert Lewandowski are two of the best players in the world and they will meet in a World Cup knockout match on Sunday. The star-studded French are heavily favored to advance to a quarterfinal.

See how France and Poland reached the Round of 16, what the odds for the game are and which team our experts think will advance to the quarterfinals.

How they got here:

Lewandowski is one of the best strikers in the world, but hasn’t had many chances to show it at this World Cup. He had a penalty saved against Mexico and did score his first World Cup goal against Saudi Arabia, but he was outnumbered and isolated against Argentina. The Barcelona striker had six shots in the group stage.

Mbappe is the biggest name for France, but has far more support and is more rested. Mbappe subbed on in the 63rd minute against Tunisia on Wednesday. Defending champion France made nine changes to the starting 11 for that group stage finale. Tunisia surprised the French with a 1-0 win, but France still won the group, and the extra rest for many players could be a big boost given the condensed schedule in this tournament.

France’s prolific attack was on display with 23 shots against Australia and 21 against Denmark before the squad changes, and a lack of urgency resulted in only 10 against Tunisia. Contrast that with Poland having less than 40% possession in all three group matches and failing to get 10 shots in any match. Poland’s Wojciech Szczesny has been one of the best goalkeepers in the tournament so far and will likely be busy again.

The French haven’t lost a Round of 16 match since 1934. Either France makes a deep run in a World Cup, or goes out in the group stage. There hasn’t been much middle ground. Poland is in the knockout stage for the first time since 1986 and is looking for a first quarterfinal appearance since 1982.

The French have better personnel, have a proven record of success with this group and have performed better at this World Cup. Add that up and France is one of the biggest favorites in this round.

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