The two teams will be looking to get their respective campaigns going after disappointing starts.
Staying true to its billing as the most unpredictable group AT the FIFA World Cup 2018, the opening two matches of Group H threw up two unexpected results. Poland and Colombia, the two bookmakers’ favourites to qualify from this group were inflicted defeat by the other two less-fancied teams Senegal and Japan respectively.
Both the vanquished will now faceoff against each other in their second group stage match on Sunday evening at the Kazan Arena. A win is of utmost importance to both teams as it would significantly strengthen their chances of qualifying for the knockout stages and also provide a great fillip to their World cup sojourn after a lacklustre start. While a defeat would almost surely mean curtains on their rendezvous in Russia.
About the teams
Poland will be highly disappointed with their loss against their African opponents. Despite controlling large swathes of the match and having much of the possession they didn’t have much to show for it. Eventually, the tie was decided in favour of Senegal with the help of two scrappy goals, the first an own-goal and the second via a defensive calamity at the back that allowed M’baye Niang to knock the ball into an empty net, which interestingly was Senegal’s only shot on target in the game.
Veteran Jakub Blaszczykowski was looking lively on the wings before he was taken off in the first half with injury. ‘Kuba’ looks a doubt for the game against the Colombians and the Eagles would surely miss his presence on the pitch. Kamil Glik is expected to be back for this game after missing out against the Senegalese due to an injury sustained in training prior to the World Cup. His inclusion would bring a sense of calm in the Polish backline.
Manager Adam Nawalka would probably start with a 4-4-2 formation like the last game. Wojciech Szczesny would once again reprise his role between the sticks. The vastly experienced Lukasz Piszczek would start on the right side of the back four and would be tasked with running up and down his flank.
Thiago Cionek will likely partner Kamil Glik at the heart of the defence. Piotr Zielinski and Grzegorz Krychowiak would keep their places in the heart of the midfield. Sampdoria’s Dawid Kownacki, primarily a striker, will probably fill in for Blaszczykowski on the right wing. Arkadiusz Milik will partner captain and talisman Robert Lewandowski upfront.
Catastrophy struck the Colombians as early as the third minute against Japan as midfielder Carlos Sanchez blocked a goal-bound effort that led to a straight red for him and a penalty against his team which Shinji Kagawa converted.
Despite being a goal and a man down so early on in the game, Los Tri fought on valiantly and equalised before the end of the first half. But, the numerical advantage took its toll and they had to slump to a narrow 1-2 defeat. The result might have been quite different had the Colombians ended the game with all their 11 men.
Jose Pekerman will likely start with his favoured 4-2-3-1 once again. David Ospina would once again be guarding the Colombian goal. But, the young Davinson Sanchez might be dropped after his poor showing in the opening game and the experienced Christian Zapata would likely start with Oscar Murillo at the centre of the defence. Carlos Sanchez’s suspension will likely see the young and talented Wilmar Barrios start in the middle of the park. Upfront Colombia will be provided with a big boost by the return of star-man James Rodriguez, who only came off the bench in the last game. He will be looking to provide the spark to inspire his team to a win against the Poles.
The picturesque Kazan Arena will be the venue of this potential group-defining clash. Home to Rubin Kazan, it holds upto 45,000 spectators. This will be the penultimate group stage match held at this venue.
Szczesny, Piszczek, Glik, Cionek, Rybus, Krychowiak, Zielinski, Kownacki, Grosicki, Milik, Lewandowski
What to expect
This game has been long touted as the game of the group and more so now, after both the teams lost their opening games and would do anything possible to resurrect their campaign. As both teams would look to go for a win, this promises to be a very entertaining game between two strong sides.
Both the Bayern Munich stars Rodriguez and Robert Lewandowski will be the protagonists of this battle on opposite sides. The attacking unit of Colombia with Rodriguez as the lynchpin from the start could be a handful for the shaky Polish defence.
Robert Lewandowski will get special attention from the Colombian defence, but if they do not up their game from their last outing they can expect a similar outcome.
Khel Now Predicts
Poland 1-2 Colombia