TCM Analysis: France v Poland

The last 16 knockout stage of the World cup saw World Champions France take on Poland.

Dec 5th 2022

Written by The Coaching Manual


France: 1-4-2-3-1

Poland: 1-4-1-4-1


First Half Review

The third game in the round of 16 started as expected, with France dominating a lot of the possession and on the front foot.

However, unlike in the group stages, Poland were a bit more aggressive in their passing, looking to get at the French team from the beginning. 

France's strategy was clear from the off, as Giroud was more likely to slide over the left of the shape to support Mbappe on the flanks. This proved fruitful as Mbappe continued to give Matty Cash a torrid time, often twisting him inside out to find himself in crossing positions or with space to cross. 

France were putting pressure on the Polish defence, with crosses being fired in across the line - and in one instance, right in front of Szczesny in the Poland goal only for Dembele to not quite reach the final ball, and for Giroud to put it just wide.

Poland did find themselves in the game and had a good chance when Lloris made a brilliant save on the line and Varane cleared off the line for a rebound. 

France were rewarded for their sustained pressure when Mbappe slid in Giroud to finish to make it 1-0. Not long afterwards, the whistle went for half time with France the much happier side going into the break. 

To help players in 1v1 situations in Attack like Mbappe, use this practice:

Second Half Review 

It was Poland who came out in the second half with much of the possession, however, this didn't fluster the French, who were calm in their defence. 

With Poland looking to push themselves for the next goal, France had an excellent opportunity to counter-attack. This led to the next goal in the game, when a Griezmann clearance ended up in a 3v3 situation for France with Mbappe finishing from inside the box. 

Mbappe put the final nail in the coffin of Poland’s World Cup with a superb finish from the corner of the box, curling it into the top corner. Poland had nothing to lose and looked to get some kind of consolation out of the game and were rewarded when Lewandowski converted a penalty in the last kick of the game. 

A comfortable performance from Les Bleus saw them go through to the quarter-finals. 

Many coaches say, the most important areas of the field are the boxes, both defending and attacking. Mbappe was clinical in the attacking box in this game. Coach your players on how to finish inside the box with this practice.:

Specific Strategy: Counter Attack


For all their attacking threat, France are well versed on the counter-attack with Mbappe being the main outlet. When defending, is often the left-sided centre midfielder will drop into left midfield, cover Mbappe so he can stay further forward up the pitch, offering an outlet on the counter-attack. 

Read more about counter attacks in this article:

Wide Play and Switching Play


The French have 2 extremely dangerous and quick players in wide positions in Dembele and Mbappe. However, the intelligence of Giroud and Greizmann in knowing when to support and when to switch is vital to the team. Both act as a pivot in attacking areas, once facing forward, the other backward, giving multiple options to switch the play through and beneath. 

Read about switching play in the passing and support article by PRO Licence tutor Martin Hunter:

Next Game

France will play England in the Quarter Final on Saturday

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