Poland ready to overcome France in Round of 16, says coach

Poland coach Czeslaw Michniewicz brushed aside criticism of his team for being too defensive at the World Cup, saying his cautious approach helped them advance to the last 16, where they will look to beat world champions France in the Next Sunday (4th), Miners’ Day in Poland.

Poland progressed to the knockout stage for the first time in 36 years after conceding just two goals in three games, with Argentina scoring twice after Michniewicz’s side failed to score against Mexico and Saudi Arabia.

“Those who weren’t playing defensively at the World Cup are back home watching it on TV. Now we’re out of the group stage so we’re going to change our plans,” Michniewicz said ahead of Sunday’s game against France.

“You win or you go home, the stakes are high. We were dreaming of going through the group stage, we did everything possible to achieve this, ”she stated.

“December 4th is a holiday for miners in Poland, so we will do our best to celebrate this holiday. We are not afraid of France, we respect our opponents, we respect their class. But we don’t care what others think of our team,” he declared.

Poland’s strategy had earned Michniewicz comparisons with José Mourinho, the Portuguese coach well known for his primarily defensive approach to games.

“It is no longer up to date, this comparison is no longer valid,” he added with a smile. “Football is about winning trophies and being successful, especially at the World Cup.”

“The teams are aware that you can’t let your opponents score easily. We were good defensively and as a reward we will play against France”, he declared.

Michniewicz said Poland will be the “next world champions” if they beat France, cheekily congratulating Tunisia on being world champions for one day, but said he had only looked deeply at Les Bleus’ first two wins against Australia and Denmark.

Poland, however, will have a difficult task with Kylian Mbappé in fine form and in the running for the Golden Boot having scored three Cup goals so far.

“He is so fast that it will be difficult to stop him without a motorcycle,” said Polish striker Arkadiusz Milik with a laugh.

“We need to play collectively as a group, we need cooperation, as individually nobody is able to stop him.”

Michniewicz said he hadn’t found any weaknesses in France, but that he wasn’t going into the game with the mindset that his squad would be on their way home after the game.

“Our bags are not packed, we weren’t ready to go home before playing Argentina and we’re not ready to go home now,” he said.

“We know it is a huge challenge. Mbappe and [Antoine] Griezmann are in good shape. We have our strengths, we can play football. We have great players and we’ll see on the field ”, he concluded.

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Translated to english by RJ983

From Brazil, by EBC News