No one team has risen above the pack at the World Cup so far, but France are clicking into gear.
Their round of 16 opponents Poland challenged them more than they challenged Argentina in their final group game. However, France’s firepower won out in the end.
After a first half in which Poland had their chances, France took the lead just before the break. Olivier Giroud finished smartly to put them one up and become France’s all-time leading goalscorer.
France are hoping to become just the third team to retain the FIFA world cup. In an attempt to make history, making some history along the way will only increase their momentum.
Poland fought, but the game was put to bed by the supreme quality of Kylian Mbappe. His two lethal finishes defied the rest of his performance, in which he struggled against Matty Cash.
Wojciech Szczesny, arguably the best keeper of the tournament so far, had no chance with Mbappe’s two rasping finishes.
Ultimately they were rewarded for being positive. When Poland did get forward, they didn’t have the final pass or shot. In contrast, the French attackers knew how to move when they approached the Polish goal.
Absent Karim Benzema, Giroud, Mbappe, Griezmann and Dembele all appear to be in good form at the right time.
England, who progressed relatively easily with a 3-0 win over Senegal, provide an interesting quarter final matchup. Both teams have scored a lot of goals but neither has been truly tested.
The difference maker will be Mbappe, who is the one superior player on both teams. It will be the first real test for England’s defence, which still has to disprove its doubters.