WorldCupAcca Confirmed Squad:
Keeper: B. Białkowski, L. Fabiański, W. Szczesny
Defence: J. Bednarek, B. Bereszyński, T. Cionek, K. Glik, A. Jedrzejczyk, M. Pazdan, L. Piszczek
Midfield: J. Błaszczykowski, J. Goralski, K. Grosicki, G. Krychowiak, R. Kurzawa, K. Linetty, S. Peszko, M. Rybus, P. Zielinski
Forward: D. Kownacki, R. Lewandowski, A. Milik, L. Teodorczyk
Poland will be making their 8th appearance at the World Cup this year, and their first since 2006.
In their last 2 tournaments they failed to get out of the group stages after winning one and losing 2 in each tournament.
Their best finishes to date came in ‘74 and ‘82 when they had the likes of Grzegorz Lato, Andrzej Szarmach and Władysław Żmuda in their squad that saw them to 3rd place finishes.
The squad they have now is possibly as good as their team of that era, they comfortably finished top of the relatively comfortable UEFA Group E, winning eight out of 10 fixtures against Denmark, Montenegro, Romania, Armenia and Kazakhstan, even though their 4-0 defeat in Copenhagen was an obvious disappointment.
They scored 28 goals, 16 of them coming from Robert Lewandowski. The captain netted hat tricks in key home wins against Romania and Denmark, and their qualification was never really in doubt.
Recent friendlies have been somewhat disappointing for Poland, a 0-0 draw with Uruguay in November was followed by back to back 1-0 losses against Mexico and Nigeria.
In March they beat South Korea 3-2 but had thrown away a 2-0 lead before snatching a winner in stoppage time and in their final match before the tournament against Chile they drew 2-2, once again failing to hold onto a 2-0 lead.
WorldCupAcca The Squad:
Manager Adam Nawalka will be looking to build on a successful Euro 2016, where the Poles reached the quarterfinals and exited only on penalties.
They have a solid backbone of experienced leaders, including centre-back Kamil Glik, defender Lukasz Piszczek and midfielder Grzegorz Krychowiak, who are complemented by rising young stars like Piotr Zielinski and Karol Linetty.
Some of the key players didn’t have the best of seasons with their respective clubs.
Krychowiak wasn’t a regular starter at West Brom, Arkadiusz Milik hardly featured at Napoli after another significant injury setback, Kuba Blaszczykowski was injured for most of the season at Wolfsburg, Kamil Grosicki wasn’t at his best for Hull, while Wojciech Szczesny spent the season as a bench-warmer behind Gianluigi Buffon at Juventus.
Szczesny should retain his place in goal ahead of Lukasz Fabianski who is a decent backup option.
Łukasz Piszczek and Maciej Rybus should start in the right and left fullback positions, Rybus is also adept at playing on the left wing. Michal Pazdan and Kamil Glik will be the starting central partnership, Glik has become a key player at Monaco, helping them win Ligue 1 in 2016-17, even scoring 6 goals in his 36 appearances.
Grzegorz Krychowiak should still be starting as the holding midfielder in the team, along with Piotr Zieliński and Karol Linetty in the middle of the park, whilst Kamil Grosicki and Jakub Błaszczykowski will provide the width and look to support Lewandowski.
Robert Lewandowski could be considered the greatest-ever Polish footballer already, but he needs a major achievement with the national team to cement his place in history.
He is Poland’s most prolific player of all time, overtaking Wlodzimierz Lubanski with 53 goals in 94 matches. His form for Bayern was magnificent, with 41 goals in all competitions, but his leadership qualities will come under the spotlight in Russia. He had a relatively quiet tournament at Euro 2016, scoring just once, and must be much more efficient at the World Cup if Poland are to go far.
WorldCupAcca The Group:
This is the tightest group in the competition by far and although Colombia will be favourites to win it they will need to perform from the off and perform well.
Colombia had their best ever performance last time out in Brazil as they reached the quarter finals, easing through their group and past Uruguay before being defeated by the hosts.
They will be without first choice left back Frank Fabra unfortunately and their central midfield isn’t the best but they possess some very good defenders in Davison Sanchez and Yerry Mina at the back and the attacking threat of Cuadrado, Falcao and James Rodriguez should be enough to see them through the group.
Senegal are also serious contenders to get out of this group, they qualified unbeaten from CAF’s Group D after taking 14 points from their six matches, winning four and scoring 10 goals.
They’ve a wealth of talented forward options, powerful midfielders and commanding central defensive options in Kalidou Koulibaly and Kara Mbodji.
The key area of strength, is in midfield, where Idrissa Gueye performs a key duty, snuffing out opposition attacks and protecting his defence.
He has not enjoyed his best season at Everton, but his defensive numbers have rivalled those of N’Golo Kante in recent years, and he’s the centrepiece of a strong unit that should contain the likes of Kouyate, Alfred N’Diaye and Cheikh N’Doye.
Add to this the pace and quality of the likes of Sadio Mane, Moussa Sow, Ismaila Sarr, Diafra Sakho, M’Baye Niang and Keita Balde among others in attack and the The Lions of Teranga can cause problems for a lot of teams.
Japan are the weakest team in the group, despite a turbulent campaign, Japan won their group in Asian qualifying to secure their place at the finals.
Finishing ahead of Saudi Arabia by a solitary point to advance to a sixth consecutive World Cup. A 2-0 win over Australia in their penultimate game saw them book their place and secure first position, claiming one of two automatic berths.
They possess an experienced group of players, several of whom will be appearing at their third World Cup.
Eiji Kawashima, Keisuke Honda, Yuto Nagatomo, Shinji Okazaki and captain Makoto Hasebe all played in 2010 and 2014 and it will be up to them to give the team the much-needed lift behind the scenes after a difficult lead-in to the finals, with the sacking of Vahid Halilhodzic which caused turbulence within the squad and left with just two months to repair the damage under new coach Akira Nishino.
They’re always comfortable in possession and have some quality players in Keisuke Honda and Shinji Kagawa but they will likely be finishing bottom of what should be a fiercely competitive group.
WorldCupAcca Betting Tips:
World Cup Group H Fixtures / Results
|Mordovia Arena, Saransk – June 19, 2018 3:00 pm|
|Spartak Stadium, Spartak Stadium – June 19, 2018 6:00 pm|
|Central Stadium, Yekaterinburg – June 24, 2018 8:00 pm|
|Kazan Arena, Kazan – June 24, 2018 9:00 pm|
|Volgograd Stadium, Volgograd – June 28, 2018 5:00 pm|
|Cosmos Arena, Samara – June 28, 2018 6:00 pm|
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