Poland take on Senegal in a Group H clash to get their respective World Cup campaigns kicked off. Both sides are filled with a couple of star players so this game may be one of surprises.
Poland v Senegal
Location: Otkritie Arena (Moscow)
Date: Tuesday 19th June
Last Meeting: This will be the first time the two sides have met
Both sides have returned to the World Cup after previous absences. However, they have been put in a group with Colombia and Japan. Group H is arguably the trickiest, with no standout sides and all teams are well matched.
This is Senegal’s first World Cup since 2002 which is a memorable one for the Senegalese. The African side reached the quarter-finals with names like El-Hadji Diouf, Kalilou Fadiga and Aliou Cisse (current manager). Additionally, this is Poland’s first World Cup since 2006 when they failed to make it out of the group stage.
Both teams will be eager to stay at the World Cup for as long as they can, given their recent failures. How will the teams fare when they come head to head for the first time?
Manager: Adam Nawalka
Preferred Formation: 4-4-2
Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich): Regarded as one of the best strikers in the world, the Bayern Munich forward will have Polish hopes on his shoulders. Lewandowski will be tasked with providing goals and is expected to play a massive part should Poland get out of the group stages.
He is the captain of his country and should Poland progress through the group stages, Lewandowski is expected to be a talisman. He is also Poland’s top goal scorer with 55 goals in 95 games, hence it is easy to see why he carries the pressure on his shoulders.
Style of Play
Nawalka has recently experimented with his side’s formation. He went from a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-4-2 to try a 3-4-3. However, it is likely that he will stick to a 4-4-2 for more stability in this competition. With Arkadiusz Milik returning to the side after a serious knee injury, the Napoli striker will partner Lewandowski up front. Poland will hope the Senegalese defence will pay a little more attention to Lewandowski so Milik may get more space. Additionally, the playmaking will be provided by Jakub Blaszczykowski. The Wolfsburg winger will feature on the right flank for Poland and will look to cause Senegal trouble.
Team News: There are no major injury concerns for the Polish side.
Predicted Line-up: Szczesny, Piszczek, Glik, Pazdan, Rybus, Blaszczykowski, Krychowiak, Zielinski, Grosicki, Milik and Lewandowski.
Manager: Aliou Cisse
Preferred Formation: 4-2-3-1
Sadio Mane (Liverpool): After moving from Southampton to Liverpool, the forward has made a name for himself as one of the game’s top players. His pace and desire in going forward are enough to hurt any team. The Senegalese will be hoping the Liverpool player is in top form for the World Cup. Since making his debut in 2012, Mane went on to score 14 goals in 51 appearances. A good World Cup would see the 26-year-old elevate his reputation even more.
Style of Play
Cisse has gained much criticism from analysists for his conservative type of football. However, his style of football has taken his nation to their first World Cup finals since 2002. At the heart of their defence is Kalidou Koulibaly of Napoli, who has established himself as a top-class centre-half. Expect Senegal to have a solid base between defence and midfield but also expect individual magic from the likes of Sadio Mane and Keita Balde.
Team News: Senegal have no current injury concerns
Predicted Line-up: Diallo, Sabaly, Koulibaly, Sane, Gassama, Ndiaye, Gueye, Sarr, Mane, Balde, Sakho.