15th October, 2013
England host Poland in their last match of World Cup qualification campaign at Wembley tonight. The last match between these two sides ended in a 1-1 draw as Kamil Glik cancelled out Wayne Rooney’s opening goal in the second half.
Poland’s last visit to Wembley, back in 2005, ended in a 2-1 victory for the home side as Frank Lampard scored a late winner. The match was a dead rubber back then with both England and Poland securing their qualification from the group. This time though the match still holds a lot of importance for England as they look to cement their place at the top of the points table in group H.
England are currently leading the table with 19 points and are guaranteed at least a play-off spot from this group. But Roy Hodgson would want to avoid the rigours and perils of a play-off, especially considering the strong teams they could face. England need to win this game in order to cement their place at the top of this group; any other result and they will have to depend on the outcome of the fixture between San Marino and Ukraine.
The Three Lions are the only unbeaten side from Group H, but it hasn’t been a convincing qualifying campaign for them and Roy Hodgson knows that his side will need to improve a lot before the World Cup. They are coming into this match on the back 4-1 victory over Montenegro. It was perhaps one of their better performances in this qualifying campaign, as they put Montenegro to the sword in the second half. Debutante Andros Townsend was the star of the show as he made an immediate impact in the side.
Tom Cleverley and Ashley Cole are still out of contention due to injuries, which means Baines will continue to deputize at the left back. But the biggest worry for Roy Hodgson is the absence of a proper right back in his squad right now. While Glen Johnson is still injured, Kyle Walker picked up a booking in his last game which has earned him a suspension for this. Walker’s absence means one of Phil Jones or Chris Smalling will have to start at the right back. It seems like Jones will get the nod for this game.
Other than this, Roy Hodgson is expected to field the same eleven he used in their victory over Montenegro. He switched to a more traditional 4-4-2 (or 4-4-1-1) formation in England’s last match, with Welbeck and Townsend playing as wingers. It worked for England in the last game, but it Poland might be a different tactical proposition.
Expected starting line-up (4-4-1-1): Hart (GK); Baines, Jagielka, Cahill, Jones; Welbeck, Gerrard, Lampard, Townsend; Rooney; Sturridge
Poland are already out of contention for the next year’s tournament and their fate was sealed with the 1-0 defeat at the hands of Ukraine in their last game. Andriy Yarmolenko’s goal in the second half proved to be the winner as the away side failed to score past a oraganised Ukraine defence. The only thing Poland will play for in this game is pride and a chance to finish above Montenegro in the group.
The main concern for Waldemar Fornalik is the fact that his side has drawn too many games. The have conceded some crucial goals despite taking the lead – like in the match against Montenegro and Moldova. Dropping those crucial points have hurt the team badly as despite losing just two matches they find themselves out of contention.
Lukasz Piszczek is still out with his injury, while defender Lukasz Szukala will serve out his suspension after picking up a booking the last match. Fornalik is expected to make only one change to the squad that was fielded against Ukraine as Marcin Wasilewski will replace Szukala at the back
Poland have nothing to lose in this game and is expected to come out adventurous in this match and they will look to spoil the party for England.
Expected starting line-up (4-5-1): Boruc (GK); Jedrzejczyk, Wasilewski, Glik, Wojtkowiak; Blaszczykowski, Klich, Lewandowski, Krychowiak, Sobota; Lewandowski
Players to watch out for: Andros Townsend (England); Robert Lewandowski (Poland)
Prediction: England 2-1 Poland
Blast from the past