Group A return tonight for the next round of games, the second of which see co-hosts Poland against top of the group Russia. The Polish, though getting a point, will feel they didn’t make the most of on their chances last Friday in their 1-1 draw with Greece, unlike the Russians who ran out 4-1 winners against the Czechs on the same night.
Already a heated rivalry, the game falls on Russia day making the stakes even higher than in previous meetings for the visiting side. But the Russians will have to ignore the press and furore surrounding the game and focus on strong a attacking team who have plenty of goals in them – should they convert this time.
Poland’s game against Greece was extremely one sided on the attacking front with the home nation dominating the shots stat with 15 attempts to the Greeks’ 7. But they failed to capitalize, despite strong chances for star striker Robert Lewandowski.
The Dortmund front man did find the net once, in the first half, but a host of other opportunities passed him by, allowing Greece to get back in the game. This is where the Polish will need to improve, because unlike in their opening game they are unlikely to dominate possession – of which they had 59% – but Russia have holes to exploit.
The Russians are currently on a 15-match unbeaten run, including the domination of the Czech Republic on Friday. Billed as the game between the two group favourites, Russia put themselves in a very strong position to qualify after converting 4 of their 7 attempts on target.
But they did allow the Czechs through several times, building up to 13 attempts and 7 also on target from their opponents. The overall tone of the game was in Russia’s favour – with possession going 58% to 42% – but it’s clear to see that the Russian’s are susceptible to the counter attack and this is where Poland’s conversion rate will have to be stronger than last Friday.
After his sending off, Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny is banned so it’s likely that Przemyslaw Tyton, who saved the resulting penalty, will be in goal for the Polish.
Dick Advocat looks set to keep the 4-1 winning side from the opening fixture, explaining earlier this week that despite missing several chances Aleksandr Kerzhakov will not lose out to goal scorer Roman Pavlyuchenko.
Overall the Russians have won 9 to Poland’s 4 in the 17 games they have played against each other in the past but the two teams have only met three times since the Soviet Union was dissolved in 1991, winning one each.
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