The second game of the Group H between Poland and Senegal will take place at the Otkrytiye Arena in Moscow on June 19th. The White and Reds might be the slight favorites on this one, but all four teams in this group are strong and have a pretty much equal chance to reach the Round of 16, so this duel has the potential to be a mouthwatering one.
Poland vs. Senegal
Three-Way: 1: Poland +140; X: +225 Draw; 2: Senegal +229 at BetDSI Sportsbook
Spread -0.5: Poland +125; Senegal -161
Total 2.5 goals: Over +125; Under -164
The White and Reds qualified to their eighth World Cup after missing out on the previous two, and the former bronze medal winners from 1974 and 1982 are hoping to advance to the knockout phase for the first time since Mexico 1986.
Adam Nawałka has a rather experienced side with Bundesliga’s top scorer Robert Lewandowski as the leader of this generation, but he also has a few promising players such as Jan Bednarek, Karol Linetty, and Piotr Zieliński, so the mix of youth and experience could get them far this time around in Russia.
Lewy will play alongside Arkadiusz Milik who is always a goal-scoring threat when healthy, and two of them formed a great partnership in the attack in the past few years, so opposing defenses in the group should be worried about Poland’s offensive potential. The pair combined for 65 goals for the White and Reds and will certainly contribute with few more at this tournament, while Jakub Błaszczykowski, Piotr Zieliński, and Kamil Grosicki will be their biggest support from the midfield.
The popular “Kuba” Błaszczykowski needs five more games to become Poland’s most-capped player as Michał Żewłakow currently holds the record with 102 matches, and although he experienced a rather unimpressive campaign with Wolfsburg, Kuba’s influence in the national side is enormous.
It appears that the Polish defense is the weakest part of the squad as they don’t have a star defender who would command the back four, and it was evident that the defense is leaky in the previous friendly games.
Poland played three friendlies against Nigeria, South Korea, and Chile, conceding in all three including four in the last two matches. While the defense is far from being reliable, they will lean on Lewandowski and the attack, so they have the ability to outscore any rival in the Group H.
The Lions of Teranga made it to the World Cup for the second time in the country’s history and first since 2002 when Senegal was a big hit in Japan and South Korea, but it seems that this generation is even better. Back in 2002, Senegal got to the quarter-finals in their debut World Cup, and although repeating that success would be hard here in Russia, they have a decent chance to make it to the Round of 16.
Aliou Cissé is lucky to work with some excellent players, especially in the attack when Senegal has Sadio Mané, Keita Baldé, M’Baye Niang, Moussa Sow, Mame Biram Diouf, Diafra Sakho, all of which played important role in the qualifications. It’s going to be interesting to see for which three up front the coach will decide to start on this one, but one thing is certain, the biggest star of this team and a guaranteed started is Mane.
The midfield consists of individuals who are all playing in England and possess great strength, so I wouldn’t be surprised that Senegal has around 60% of ball possession in all three games in the group stage. Idrissa Gueye and Cheikhou Kouyaté will operate from the middle of the park and will represent a connection between the defense and attack, and they could run all day long, which cannot be said for Polish midfielders.
Although their defense is not one of the best at the World Cup, Senegal at least have one world-class defender, unlike their opponents, and that’s Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly, one of the most wanted centre-backs at the moment. The goalkeeping position is likely the weakest part of the squad as Abdoulaye Diallo and Khadim N’Diaye don’t have enough quality, so Lewandowski and Milik will surely fire from everywhere on the pitch.
Senegal played four friendlies following the end of the qualification phase and didn’t record a single victory, with three draws including the disappointing one with Luxembourg, and a defeat in the latest tilt with Croatia, despite being a goal up early in the second half.
Poland cannot keep the net intact recently but they do score plenty of goals on the other end, so this duel has the potential to be the highest-scoring one in the first round of the group stage. Excellent players on both sides in the attack should produce at least one goal apiece, so I expect to see goals on both ends on this one.
The Pick: Both teams to score YES (-105)