Who could France face in the World Cup knockout stages?

Max Parsons
France want to retain their crown
France want to retain their crown / Simon M Bruty/GettyImages

France became the first nation at the 2022 World Cup to clinch a spot in the tournament's knockout stages when they beat Denmark 2-1 on matchday two in Group D.

A strong showing against somewhat of a bogey team meant Les Bleus became the first reigning champions from Europe to advance past the group stage since Germany in 1994. A loss to Tunisia put a blemish on their record, though they still qualified as group winners.

So, with a sigh of relief and a subtle boost of optimism behind them, who could Didier Deschamps' men face in the knockout stages?

How did France qualify for the last 16?

France's World Cup campaign kicked off with a gargantuan scare; Craig Goodwin's ninth-minute strike put Australia 1-0 up against the world champions to remind us all of their seemingly incurable defensive frailties.

Luckily, however, the rest of the squad reminded us of their blisteringly potent creative and attacking quality as Adrien Rabiot, Kylian Mbappe and Olivier Giroud all struck to earn Deschamps' side a 4-1 thrashing of the Socceroos - Giroud's brace put him on 51 international goals, levelling him up with the great Thierry Henry as France's all-time highest goal-scorer.

Having starred in that game, Mbappe put in another talismanic showing on matchday two as his nation secured their last-16 spot with the aforementioned victory over Denmark.

Against a side that beat them home and away in the Nations League this year, Les Bleus put in a professional performance stacked with a strength of character that few would have associated with the squad.

A brace from Mbappe, either side of Andreas Christensen's headed equaliser in the second half, was enough for a 2-1 win and a guaranteed round-of-16 fixture for a third World Cup in succession.

The final matchday in the group saw Deschamps shuffle his starting XI to a ridiculous extent, with his B team failing to gel in a 1-0 defeat to Tunisia.

While disappointing, France still ended up topping the group to qualify for the last 16.

Who could France face in the World Cup knockout stages?

Who did France face in the last 16?

Winning Group D set up a clash between Les Bleus and Poland.

Robert Lewandowski and co earned four points in their first two group games before being beaten by Argentina in their last outing to qualify as Group C runners up.

However, they posed no real threat to France. They kept the reigning champions out until the 44th minute, when Olivier Giroud opened the scoring. Kylian Mbappe stole the show late on with two blockbuster strikes from distance before Lewandowski's 98th-minute consolation from the penalty spot.

Who will France face in the quarter finals?

France's victory over Poland set up a clash with local neighbours England.

The Three Lions came through the group stage undefeated thanks to wins over Iran and Wales, also drawing with the USA. Senegal were also dispatched 3-0 in the last 16 thanks to strikes from Jordan Henderson, Harry Kane and Bukayo Saka.

Who could France face in the quarter finals?

If France see off England, they will face the winner of the quarter final between Portugal and Morocco.

Who could France face in the final?

As reigning world champions, France will have designs on reaching the final at a bare minimum. The Netherlands, Argentina, Croatia and Brazil are all on the opposite side of the draw, meaning they will only face one of those sides in either the final or the third place playoff.