France became the first football team to qualify for the Round of 16 in the FIFA World Cup 2022 being held at Qatar. France beat Denmark 2-1 at stadium 974, and topped the points table in Group D with 6 points and a goal difference of +4 while the other three teams i.e. Australia, Denmark and Tunisia stand at 3, 1 and 1 point respectively after playing two matches each.
The win came from the rising star Kylian Mbappé’s breathtaking performance as he scored twice during the match (61′ and 86′). He gave his nation the lead just after an hour in the game, while linking up with his team mate Hernandez after a triumphant counter attack on the opposing Danish side. It ended beautifully as Mbappé overpowered Schmeichel with a close-range shot. Denmark soon had their equalizer, thanks to Andreas Christensen. He scored with a header targeted to the ground and beat Hugo Lloris with such finesse. Soon after, the PSG striker came with another pleasant surprise just minutes before the final whistle, as he received an in-swinging cross from his extremely talented teammate Antoine Griezmann while both defenders of the opposition team were at the far post and he managed to control and turn the ball over the line.
With just two minutes to the stoppage time, France had all its 11 players within the 30 yards of their own goal. With a counter-attack mindset, they were looking to propel the ball the farthest and launch Mbappé to potentially bag a third. In the end, France won despite having a lower ball possession compared to its Danish opposition (48% v 52%). The PSG star, a mere 23 year old, has scored six goals in his last nine WC games. He has scored a whopping 14 goals in his last 12 appearances in all competitions for France. His rise mirrors that of Ronaldo Nazario’s. Antoine Griezmann has created nine chances so far in the two World Cup games, the most by a French player after Zinedine Zidane’s nine chances in the first two games of the 1998 World Cup.
As France qualify for the Round of 16, Denmark must beat Australia to make it to the knockouts.
France is unbeaten in each of its last eight first round group stage matches at the World Cup (won 6, draw 2), and they have managed to equate their previous record that lasted from the 1982 World Cup to the 1998 World Cup (won 6, draw 2). In addition to that, France is now the fifth reigning champion at the World Cup to win their opening two games after Italy in 1938, Uruguay in 1954, Brazil in 1998, and Brazil in 1996.
France’s young side is tough. With players like Olivier Giroud, Raphaël Varane, Ousmane Dembélé, Ibrahima Konaté, Lucas Hernandez etc. the French side is young and promising. One can see that they do have the potential, will, grit, and mentality to win this championship. These players have played in the world’s best football clubs and the best leagues, from PSG to Atlético de Madrid to Real Madrid to FC Barcelona to Bayern Munich and Arsenal.