As Japan gear up to take on Poland in their final Group H game of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, we take a look at three players who could be the difference makers.
Japan will face off against Poland in their final Group H game at the Volgograd Arena on Thursday, as they look to qualify for the knockout stages of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Following their 2-2 draw against Senegal, the Blue Samurai sit atop the Group H standings with four points from two games and will need a single point on Thursday to make it through to the Last 16 of the competition. Poland, on the other hand, were eliminated from the World Cup, after they were handed a 3-0 drubbing by Colombia this past week, to add to their 2-1 defeat against Senegal in the opening game.
Japan will be keen on finishing as group winners with a victory, while Poland will be playing for pride, as they look to draw curtains on their campaign with a win. Ahead of the game, here we take a look at three players who could prove to be the game-changers on Thursday.
Having been unable to start the first two games due to a shoulder injury, the experienced AS Monaco defender has been a big miss at the heart of the defence for Poland in the World Cup. However, Glik made a brief substitute appearance in the defeat to Colombia and could be in line for a start against Japan, which would be a huge boost for Adam Nawalka’s side.
The 30-year-old, who has made 57 international appearances, is by far the most solid defender in the Polish ranks and without him, their backline has looked shaky and vulnerable. A leader on the field, Glik’s imposing presence and his vocal nature should help the White and Reds become more resolute at the back as they look to salvage something from a disappointing summer.
The 30-year-old wide-man has been one of Japan’s most impressive and influential players so far in the tournament and will look to carry on in the same vein of form against Poland on Thursday. Having made a solid start in the win over Colombia, Inui was the hero for the Blue Samurai against Senegal as he netted the first goal with a delightful finish and set up the second for Keisuke Honda.
Someone who isn’t afraid of taking on defenders from the wide areas, Inui doesn’t shy away from his defensive responsibilities down the flanks, which makes him such a valuable part of this Japanese team. Having made the difference for his team in the previous game, Inui will need to step up and deliver once again, as Japan will look to make it past the group phase.
One of the biggest disappointments of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, Poland captain Robert Lewandowski has failed to live up to the enormous expectations that were placed on him heading into the tournament.
Coming on the back of a stellar campaign with Bayern Munich, the 29-year-old was the leading goal-getter in the UEFA qualifiers as well with 16 strikes against his name, but has failed to carry that form to the finals and is yet to open his account in Russia.
It is not a new occurence though, as Lewandowski had failed to make much of an impact during the UEFA Euro in 2012 and 2016, netting just a solitary goal each time.
Currently on Premier League giants Chelsea’s radar, the star striker will be keen on making a mark in the White and Reds’ final game of the World Cup and inspire his team to a victory against the Blue Samurai at the Volgograd.