Poland and Saudi Arabia to clash on Saturday in contrasting moods

TVN24 News in English, Reuters

Contrasting moods will accompany Poland and Saudi Arabia into their World Cup Group C clash on Saturday, with all the pressure on the Poles after they started with a disappointing goalless draw while the Saudis shocked Argentina. Poland coach Czesław Michniewicz appeared upset when asked to comment on general dissatisfaction with the defensive lineup in their draw against Mexico in their World Cup opener, asking who should he drop to bolster the attack.

Striker Robert Lewandowski cut a lonely figure once again in the first half against Mexico's rugged back line before Michniewicz shifted tactics and told Piotr Zieliński to play higher up, a change that led to Poland creating more chances.

The Poland coach introduced a second striker in the 87th minute, when Zieliński was substituted by Arkadiusz Milik.

"When someone asks me if it's possible to set a different lineup, I answer: 'Of course it is possible. But at the expense of whom?'," Michniewicz told the news conference on Thursday.

"If you, journalists, would like to field some other player, just say for whom because we can't play 12. If you want a second striker, then you have to simply drop someone from that lineup."

Poland captain Lewandowski seemed to again silently share the discontent felt by the nation, confirming that, tactics-wise, not to concede was the priority against Mexico.

"If in the back of your mind there's the thought that the defence is the most important thing, then that's what it looks like later on," Lewandowski said after the game on Tuesday.

Robert Lewandowski did not get a lot of support from teammates in Poland's game against MexicoGetty Images

"With more courageous play, we're able to create situations, keeping that balance between the attack and defence. We can't be afraid to take risks, because when we pressed more Mexico lost their way."

Speaking ahead of Poland's Group C match against Saudi Arabia on Saturday, the coach had a different point of view.

"What was missing against Mexico from my perspective was the use of golden chances," Michniewicz said.

The coach specified they had three clear opportunities and reminded the reporters, amid a spree of questions, that Poland also won a penalty which Lewandowski missed.

"Another element where we need to look better is keeping the possession in the opponent's half," he added.

Saudi Arabia stunned the world by beating the Argentines 2-1 on Tuesday and could upset the odds again against a Poland side who fluffed their lines versus Mexico when Robert Lewandowski, who has never scored at a World Cup, missed a penalty.

The Saudis, who are the second-lowest ranked team in the tournament only above Ghana, will eye their second-ever round of 16 after they were knocked out by Sweden back in 1994.

For Poland a win is vital to their hopes of reaching the last 16 for the first time since 1986.

"This result does not take away the chances of advancing further neither from us nor the Mexicans," Michniewicz said after Tuesday's stalemate.

However, some of Poland players appear to have already given up on their last group match against Argentina, putting added pressure on the need to beat the Saudis.

"We're adding zero points to our account ahead of the third match, which will definitely be lost," goalkeeper Wojciech Szczęsny had said on the eve of the Mexico game.

By contrast, the Saudis got a massive boost from their first ever opening World Cup victory and the surprise Group C leaders will approach the Poland game full of optimism.

Both sides had similarly low possession and only two shots on target in their opening games but for Saudi Arabia that was enough to cause one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history.

Poland, who frustrated their fans and Lewandowski with a defensive approach, must be on the front foot or they could be heading out of the tournament.


Źródło: TVN24 News in English, Reuters

Źródło zdjęcia głównego: Getty Images

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