On Saturday lunchtime, Poland face a Saudi Arabia side riding high from an earth-shattering World Cup opener.
The goalless stalemate played out between Poland and Mexico will do well to survive in the collective consciousness by the end of the group stage. Saudi Arabia’s 2-1 toppling of World Cup favourites Argentina will forever have a place inscribed alongside the tournament’s greatest upsets.
A “very emotional” Robert Lewandowski, as described by his manager, may struggle to forget a contest stained by his wayward second-half penalty. Nevertheless, Poland have made a better start than four years prior and could leapfrog Argentina’s conquerors with a victory this weekend.
Here’s everything you need to know about the clash between two teams in a wide open group C.
Poland vs Saudi Arabia H2H Results (All Time)
Current Form (Last Five Games)
Poland team news
Czeslaw Michniewicz arrived in Qatar with a fully fit squad at his disposal. Despite the disappointment of an opening day draw, Poland appear to have emerged from their tie with Mexico unscathed – although, centre-back Kamil Glik did sustain two blows to the head.
Poland Starting 11 (3-5-2): Szczesny; Bereszynski, Glik, Kiwior; Cash, S Szymanski, Krychowiak, Zielinski, Zalewski; Milik, Lewandowski.
Bench: Skorupski, Grabara, Jedrejczyk, Wieteska, Bednarek, Gumny, Bielik, D Szymanski, Zurkowski, Frankowski, Grosicki, Skoras, Kaminski, Swiderski, Piatek.
Saudi Arabia team news
A serious head injury suffered by Yasser Al-Shahrani was a sour note in a match so historic, a Saudi Arabian national holiday was declared in its honour.
Goalkeeper Mohammed Al-Owais collided forcefully with his teammate in the second half. Before departing on a stretcher, Al-Shahrani gave a double thumbs-up but he reportedly fractured his jaw and left facial bones.
Salman Al- Faraj also limped off on the cusp of half-time with a hamstring injury.
Saudi Arabia Starting 11 (4-2-3-1): Al-Owais; Abdulhamid, Tambakti, Al-Bulayhi, Al-Burayk; Al-Abed, Al-Malki; Al-Buraikan, Kanno, S Al-Dawsari; Al-Shehri.
Bench: Al-Yami, Al-Aqidi, Al-Amri, Madu, N Al-Dawsari, Al-Ghannam, Al-Hassan, Otayf, Al-Najei, Al-Oboud, Bahebri, Asiri.
While the odds are nowhere near as slim as their first-round contest, Saudi Arabia are still deemed to be the underdogs against Poland.
Green Falcons manager Herve Renard admitted that “all the stars in the sky were in a line for us” to defeat Argentina. However, a bold and brilliantly executed high line certainly helped – as did the deafening travelling support.
Saudi’s history makers may not earn a second consecutive victory, but they could defy expectations again to claim a point against a Poland side which offered little open-play attack threat.
Prediction: Poland 1-1 Saudi Arabia
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