Poland v England: The debate

England travel to Warsaw to face Poland in Group H's most important World Cup qualifier yet.

Poland v England: The debate

View photo

Roy Hodgson's England top the group with seven points from three games while Poland have the chance to draw level as they have four points from their two games so far.

The tussle at Stadion Narodowy represents a stiff test for Hodgson and his team, but who will come out on top? We asked two of our European network of editors to tell us why they think their country will take all three points.

Why Poland will beat England - Peter Kwiatkowski

1. Because each series has its end

There have been 17 matches between these two countries, and Poland have 10 defeats, six draws and only one win. Games between Poland and England, whether we like it or not, have become part of the football history of the two nations - part of their history of winning or losing places at World Cups and European Championships. For us it’s of course a little bit depressing. For the English it’s something that gives them confidence and make them a proud nation. Poland's only real success came in that memorable year of 1973, when Kazimierz Gorski’s team won 2-0 in Chorzow and drew 1-1 at Wembley. Our biggest victory in football is a draw - what a paradox. This point is just wishful thinking based only on the old saying that each series has its end.

2. Robert Lewandowski and… Grzegorz Krychowiak

Rational thinking in football does not always work well, but if we can count on it, Robert Lewandowski is our main hope. Since Zbigniew Boniek’s time Polish football hasn't had a player (excluding goalkeepers) who is so recognisable in Europe because of his talent. Lewandowski is unique. He needs big games in the national team and we hope that the match against England will be a big boost for him. Gazeta Wyborcza had a funny observation that Lewandowski is Poland's equivalent to Joe Hart, as England for many years lacked a top goalkeeper. This time this unique players are involved in duel, but unlike in Manchester in the Champions League, Lewandowski will be the winner. As for Krychowiak, I’m really hoping that he will have a shot from distance, and I’m really counting on the fact that Hart will only look as the ball flies in to the net.

3. Unpredictability

We lost Jakub Blaszczykowski just ahead of this game. You might consider it a big loss but what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger. With Blaszczykowski on the field we would be predictable, and we were predictable during Euro 2012. Now this situation forces the team to change attitude. To be honest, now the team doesn’t have to be, how to say… hostage to Blaszczykowski. We will have strong wingers during this match: Kamil Grosicki and Pawel Wszolek. The first is very fast and can break into the box from the wing. The second has been the revelation of this Ekstraklasa season. He is a player with excellent vision and can cross the ball onto your nose. Hopefully he’ll send some nice quality passes to Lewandowski like he did during the match with South Africa on Friday.

4. Clinical finishing

England's team is top class compared to Poland's. To win against such an opponent, when you’re weaker, you need to have luck in defence and with the Polish defence we need a lot. Your opponent must have a much worse day than you and you have to be clinical in finishing your chances with surgical precision. Whether it will be Lewandowski, Grosicki, Obraniak, Krychowiak or any other player. In games like this you might have only one chance. And you have to take it. So boys, be precise.

5. The coach

Finally we have a coach who reacts appropriately to the situation on the pitch. Everybody wonders what might have happened if we had had a different coach on the bench during the European Championships. Waldemar Fornalik looks like a man who knows how to make changes and the most important thing is that he is not afraid of doing so.

View photo


Why England will beat Poland - Tom Adams

1. No John Terry

Losing a former captain and a supremely talented defender to premature retirement might at first glance seem like bad news, but Terry has been a constant distraction and embarrassment for the national side over the past few years. Now guilty of racial abuse in the eyes of the FA, his international exile allows the squad to have a weight taken off their shoulders and approach a fresh new era unburdened by controversy. Well, for now at least. Terry will be missed on the pitch, but England are a more likeable and stable unit without him.

2. Wayne Rooney

Rooney's two goals against San Marino took him to 31 for England and he is now the fifth all-time highest goalscorer for the national side, behind Sir Bobby Charlton, Gary Lineker, Jimmy Greaves and Michael Owen. Rooney is by no means an out-and-out striker though and against San Marino performed superbly in the hole as he dictated play with real authority and flicked the ball around with style. Okay, so the standard of the opposition was dreadful, but Rooney has impressed since returning from a recent leg injury and the challenge of Robin van Persie arriving at United has arguably inspired him to try even harder. Whisper it, but England's best player might just be getting better.

3. A new, young team

Beating San Marino is nothing to boast about but there were some real positives on Friday night. Tom Cleverley has adapted quickly to international football while Danny Welbeck, with four goals, is now the top scorer under Hodgson. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain provides yet more pace and invention from wide areas and no one knows just how much potential this young collection of players has. Welbeck and possibly Cleverley might be dropped to the bench as Jermain Defoe and Steven Gerrard return, but they will surely get a chance to show their huge potential at some stage. These players have been fearless so far and the usual expectation that surrounds the national team does not seem to affect them.

4. Joe Hart

Arguably the finest goalkeeper currently playing in world football, Hart has been in tremendous form of late and is a match for any striker. Robert Lewandowski is a good player of course, but Hart had his number in the Champions League when Manchester City held Borussia Dortmund to a 1-1 draw and denied him with a number of saves. The lively Hart looks supremely confident at present and it will take something special to beat him. Do Poland have that something special? Perhaps, but Hart will certainly give England a good chance of coming away with a clean sheet.

5. History and statistics

England are unbeaten in their last 14 games against Poland, winning nine. They are also unbeaten in 12 qualifiers and in all competitive games for 15 matches, excluding those dreaded penalty shoot-outs of course. England have not been beaten in 90 minutes under Roy Hodgson and though we might not play the most attractive football, we are usually pretty effective in getting results against countries outside of the world's elite. Poland are behind Libya, Jamaica and Cape Verde Islands in the world rankingsand although our lofty position of fifth isn't justified, this hints at Poland's weakness. We always hear about 1973 and Jan 'The Clown' Tomaszewski, but this was the exception rather than the rule in meetings between the two countries, and even then England didn't actually lose.

View comments (84)