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World Cup: France's firepower secures quarter-final spot

France put down another marker in their pursuit of a third World Cup triumph with a comfortable 3-1 victory over Poland in the last-16.

France's extra quality in the final third proved decisive as they booked their spot in the quarter-finals for the fourth time in the last five tournaments.

Having lost 1-0 to Tunisia in their final Group D game, Les Bleus boss Didier Deschamps reverted back to his strongest starting XI, recalling the likes of Kylian Mbappe, Olivier Giroud and Antoine Griezmann.

Poland battled valiantly and they did have a decent spell in the first half, but they failed to take the couple of chances that came their way and France's extra firepower ultimately proved to be the difference.

The reigning champions march on to the quarter-finals for the third straight event and will await the winner of the match between England and Senegal, who clash at the Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor on Sunday evening at 19:00.

France hit new heights

It was a night of records for France, which started with Hugo Lloris earning his 142nd cap and moving level with Lillian Thuram in his country's all-time appearance charts.

The Tottenham goalkeeper proved his worth to the team with a couple of big stops in the opening 45 minutes, while he did save a stoppage-time penalty in the second half, only for the attempt to be retaken because he came off his line early. Robert Lewandowski would convert at the second time of asking.

Although he is criticised at times, Lloris is undoubtedly France's number one, but he will be frustrated he is yet to keep a clean sheet in Qatar and will want to change that statistic.

While Lloris was moving level with Thuram, Olivier Giroud notched in the 44th minute to give his side the lead and also become France's all-time leading scorer with 52 - one ahead of Thierry Henry.

The 36-year-old now has three goals for the tournament but he will have to go some to catch team-mate Mbappe, who netted twice in the victory over Poland to move onto five goals for the event.

Paris Saint-Germain's superstar is two clear in the Golden Boot race and is 4/6 to scoop the award for the first time, while Giroud is priced at 18/1 to claim the spoils.

Mbappe has now scored nine goals at World Cup finals, leaving only Just Fontaine - who scored all 13 of his goals in the 1958 tournament in Sweden - ahead of him in strikes at the major tournament for France.

Improvement still needed

Although France ran out comfortable 3-1 winners over Poland, Deschamps will still be a little concerned at the defensive frailties shown by his side and higher-level opposition may give them a sterner test.

Les Bleus are yet to keep a clean sheet in the tournament, conceding one goal in all four matches, and the defending champions will need to sharpen up at the back if they want to become just the third nation to win back-to-back World Cups.

While it was a much-changed France side in the final group game, Tunisia showed that a high press can bring dividends and this same style could be adopted by either England or Senegal in the quarter-finals.

France are 4/1 to lift the Jules Rimet trophy for the third time, becoming just the fourth nation to achieve this feat, while victory in Qatar would see them join Italy (1934 and 1938) and Brazil (1958 and 1962) as the only side's to have won back-to-back titles.

Poland need a reset

Poland have struggled to go deep in World Cups since 1982 and this last-16 contest was once again a bridge too far, as they lacked the cutting edge and defensive solidity to take down France.

Although netting twice, Lewandowski struggled to have a big impact on matches and, at the age of 34, this could be his last time at the major tournament.

In a way, seeing their all-time top scorer step away from international football could prove to be a good thing for The White-Reds, who are far too reliant on the striker and are forced to play in a way to complement his quality.

There is some decent young talent in this squad, so there is positivity for the future, and the country must take the good things that have come from this tournament in Qatar.

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