By Charles Jay, CJgambling.com
Two explosive scorers are going to be battling it out in Moscow on Tuesday, when Poland and Senegal meet up in Group H action in the World Cup. But it is a defender that the Polish team is a little worried about as they prepare for this match, which is the first for both sides in the 32-team competition.
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There are very few people in the world who are more proficient at scoring goals than Robert Lewandowski, the captain of the Polish squad. To say that he is dangerous on the offensive end would be a vast understatement. Lewandowski was a monster in the qualifying phase for Poland, with sixteen goals in just ten games. That’s an incredible rate, but it isn’t really a big surprise. As he played in the Bundesliga this year, he hit the nets 29 times for Bayern Munich.
Lewandowski is enough of a national hero that the post office has just issued stamps with his name and picture on them.
But will his offensive ability be enough to propel Poland out of this group? That is a question that has to be answered with emphasis, because this is not an easy group they have found themselves in.
According to the World Cup odds at BetAnySports, Poland is the favorite, with Senegal getting some respect:
Poland -1/2 Goal (+132)
Senegal +1/2 Goal (-147)
Over 2 Goals -108
Under 2 Goals -107
When we brought up the proposition of whether Lewandowski could do it alone, we weren’t kidding. He had sixteen of the 28 goals Poland scored in qualifying. So naturally this squad is going to have to find some offense elsewhere if they are going to make themselves part of the knockout phase.
And in general, they need to be able to defend. The consensus is that Poland is weak on that end, and that is why it would be big for them to be able to have Kamil Glik in the lineup and on the back line. Glik, who plays his club football for Monaco, injured his shoulder and was not expected to be ready in time for the World Cup. However, he probably won’t be there until the last game in this group. The upside there is that it Poland’s status as far as advancing forward may be uncertain until that final game, which takes place June 28 against Japan.
Glik’s absence is felt; when he was with Torino in Serie A, he was regarded as enough of a leader that he was named captain – the first non-Italian in that spot since 1960.
Senegal’s Sadio Mane is a natural goal-scorer, and he has just returned from scoring ten goals in the Champions League. Only Christiano Ronaldo had more. And very few defenders worldwide get more respect than Kalidou Koulibaly, who is going to command a huge transfer fee if he is able to put together some solid efforts here. He’s going to be in a lot of demand anyway.
There has been just one appearance for the Senegalese, and in that one they surprised many by advancing all the way to the quarter-finals. The captain of that team was Aliou Cisse, and he is now the coach who hopes to engineer a repeat of that success. Most of the players have played outside of Senegal for their club football, and that is just fine. But do they have a lot of depth?
Lewandowski was something of a disappointment in international competitions like the Euro Cups in 2012 and 2016, as he scored just one goal in each. They’ll need him badly here, but the Poles will have their hands full stopping Mane and his colleagues on the other end.
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