Group H is all about parity, and after a series of some lopsided match-ups, seeing two evenly-matched sides like Poland and Senegal take the pitch in a hotly contested duel should make for good soccer.
Along with Colombia and Japan, Group H is unique in the sense that it’s probably the one group with no perceived dominant side. The general sense is that Colombia are the class, but Poland and Senegal should be bitter contestants for that coveted second position. This is what this makes this match-up so crucial, and why it should provide for some high quality action.
Both these teams like exciting football, and like to attack. Poland will be led by star talisman Robert Lewandowski of Bayern Munich. He’s an elite striker, but he needs others to step up around him in order for the Polish to be successful. Senegal too have an elite talent of their own in Liverpool’s Sadio Mane. The speedy forward has reinvigorated the African nation, and you can bet they’re expecting more than just a rare appearance at the World Cup.
Of all the opening games from the group stage, this Poland/Senegal games was one many fans and experts had circled from the outset. Both of their styles complement each other nicely and should provide for an eye-please encounter. Read on below for a game breakdown and betting prediction as we close out the phase one of the group stage matches.
Poland vs. Senegal Betting Odds:
Over 2 (-125)
Under 2 (+105)
Poland vs. Senegal Pick:
The Poles enter Tuesday’s encounter against Senegal having scored nine goals from their past three matches. Their Senegalese opponents are no slouches on attack either. It makes the low-set total all the more surprising for Group H showdown.
Though the Polish do admittedly enter in solid form, this is a relatively ordinary side as far as global footballing standards go. They have an elite talent in Lewandowski, and then not much else. If he’s off – as he was in recent losses to Mexico and Nigeria, that attacking talent and goal-scoring threat can dry up awfully quick for the entire side.
For Senegal, they seem to be a bit more complete of a side though it’s tough to truly tell. The African qualifying campaign isn’t exactly the toughest of competitions, but Senegal stomped right through it, easily winning their group. They have a dominant centre back, a solid midfield, and an attack led by the electric Sadio Mane, but beyond that there are serious doubts and question marks.
Manager Aliou Cisse is himself a former player, but as a manager it seems he is still tinkering with his formation, a bad sign as we approach this crucial match. It’s likely believed they’ll end up settling on a 4-3-3 structure, with Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly commanding the back-line. They love to use their speed and play fast, and are likely one of the speediest groups at Russia 2018. They are still young and inexperienced on the world stage however, and have been prone to making errors at the back. Koulibaly can limit Lewandowski, but those on his flanks cannot.
Speaking of defensive issues – the Poles have plenty of their own. Veteran defender Kamil Glik will likely need to miss out on his first two matches at the World Cup because of a nagging shoulder injury. That’s a big loss at the back for Poland, and I honestly have no clue how they’ll limit the speed of Sadio Mane and young 20-year old star Ismaila Sarr if and when he features.
I’m very surprised by the low goal total in this contest. With all of the attacking talent at each manager’s disposal, and their overall tactics, I definitely see both teams finding the back of the net. Both of Poland and Senegal’s respective styles lend themselves to an aggressive offensive approach, and I can’t see much defense. In addition, it looks likely that this could be a match that ultimately decides second place in Group H. Japan are a tier below, and Colombia are likely a notch above Senegal and Poland. Both these sides should push for a win.
Ultimately, there’s a lot of potential wagers to consider here. I see Senegal getting a positive result – either a draw or win at a big underdog price. I like both teams to score. And most of all, I like the Over 2 goals in this match – the thinking being we really shouldn’t do any worse than a push with all of the attacking talent on display.
MY PICK = Over 2 Goals (-125)