Poland and Colombia try to gain a foothold at the tournament

Poland and Colombia try to gain a foothold at the tournament

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Futbolgrad Podcast – Episode 67 – World Cup Preview Episode 1: Introducing Russia

Poland vs Colombia – Sunday, June 24, 19:00BST/20:00CEST/21:00 MSK – Kazan-Arena, Kazan, Russia 

Poland vs Colombia will take place at the Kazan Arena (Manuel Veth/Futbolgrad Network)

Poland vs Colombia will take place at the Kazan Arena (Manuel Veth/Futbolgrad Network)

It was the worst possible start for both Poland and Colombia to the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Poland lost their opening match to Senegal and Colombia succumbed to Japan after going down a man down early.

Of the two, however, Poland may have had the worse day in office. Unable to get top striker Robert Lewandowski going and conceding a shocking goal after a mistake by Wojciech Szczesny Poland will have a difficult path back into the tournament.

The fragility of the Bialo-czeroni’s squad cohesion was then highlighted by what followed after the match. “Lewandowski was probably not even on the field in the first half. The team moved at the same pace as regional train on the stretch from Pilawa to Tluszcz,” Szczesny’s father Maciej said on the television station TVP following the match.

“The Senegalese easily could shoot at an empty goal. [Wojciech] was a shame and a disgrace,” he added about his own son. They are the sort of comments that could further add fuel to the fire or make the squad come together. The Futbolgrad Network has learned that Adam Nawalka will prepare a minor tactical revolution switching the tactic to 3-4-3 away from the 4-2-3-1 used in the past. Experimenting at the World Cup can be of course dangerous and it will be interesting to see how his tactics work against Colombia.

Colombia, in the meantime, will be disappointed with the performance against Japan. Despite being a man down early Los Cafeteros were able to battle back and equalise. But playing with a man down for most of the match took its toll and Colombia seemingly faltered as the minutes ticked on and then had no power to fight back after conceding a second.

Ranked among the dark horses this second match now becomes a do or die situation for the South Americans. In order to win the match, Colombia have to eliminate Poland striker Robert Lewandowski. “We have to keep an eye on Robert Lewandowski. We got plenty of players that can keep an eye on him,” Santiago Arias explained to the media on Saturday. Arias has a point Poland have not won a match since Euro 2016 in which Lewandowski did not score.

Colombia’s very own star, James Rodríguez, in the meantime, is expected to return to the starting eleven. “He will be fit to play José Pekerman explained to the media. His return will be welcomed to a Colombia side, which at times lacked the creative input against a dynamic Japanese side. Against Poland, he can certainly give Colombia the sort of structure needed to win all three points.

Overall, however, this should be a tight affair. With everything on the line, both sides will try to control the match as much as possible suggesting that this could be a low scoring affair despite the firepower that both teams possess.

Poland vs Colombia – Players to look out for:

Robert Lewandowski #11 – Poland (Bayern München)

When Robert Lewandowski does not score Poland do not win matches. This has rung true since Euro 2016 and includes Poland’s first match at this World Cup against Senegal. In other words, Poland have to get the striker going if they want to have a chance to take all three points against Colombia.

Robert Lewandowski's goals are Poland's life insurance (JANEK SKARZYNSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

Robert Lewandowski’s goals are Poland’s life insurance (JANEK SKARZYNSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

Radamel Falcao #21 – Colombia (Monaco)

Although all the focus will be on Bayern’s James Rodríguez it will be Radamel Falcao, who will have to get the job done for Colombia. The Monaco forward will very much act as an outlet for James’ passes and with Poland expected to go with three in the back Falcao’s ability to find space in tight defensive lines will be especially important.

Colombia will rely on Radamel Falcao (l.) to get the job done (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Colombia will rely on Radamel Falcao (l.) to get the job done (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Poland vs Colombia – Match Stats

  • Poland and Colombia are meeting for the first time in history.
  • Colombia won only two out of the last nine competitive games against European teams.
  • None of the last 19 games involving Colombia ended 0-0.

Futbolgrad Network Prediction: Poland vs Colombia – 1-2

Poland vs Colombia – Lineups

Poland:

Formation: 3-4-3

Szczesny – Pazdan, Bednarek  Piszczek – Rybus, Krychowiak, Goralski, Bereszynski – Grosicki,  Lewandowski, Zielinski

Head Coach: Adam Nawalka

Colombia:

Formation: 4-2-3-1

Ospina – Mojica, Murillo, Sánchez, Arias – Lerma, Barrios – Izquierdo, James, Cuadrado – Falcao

Head Coach: José Pekerman

Manuel Veth is the owner and Editor in Chief of the Futbolgrad Network. He also works as a freelance journalist and among others works for the Bundesliga and Pro Soccer USA. He holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which is available HERE. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada.  Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.

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