Gareth Southgate’s England will be looking for a hat-trick of wins when they go up against Poland in their third 2022 FIFA World Cup European qualifier.
England will face Poland in their final 2022 FIFA World Cup European qualifier of the current international window. The Three Lions have won both their matches so far and are currently on top of Group I with six points.
Southgate’s men were up against San Marino in their opening fixture of the competition. They beat their opponents convincingly with a five-goal performance, with Dominic Calvert-Lewin netting a brace. Ollie Watkins and James Ward Prowse, meanwhile, scored their first goals for their national team.
England faced Albania in their second qualifier and were once again the victors. Harry Kane scored via his head in the first half, taking his international tally to 33 in 53 games. Chelsea star Mason Mount capped off a fine performance by scoring the second goal – a neat finish into the bottom corner after being played through by Kane.
Elsewhere, England’s next opponents, Poland, recorded their first win of the campaign – a comfortable 3-0 over Andorra. FIFA’s The Best Men’s Player of the Year incumbent, Robert Lewandowski, was among the goals once again. The Bayern Munich star scored a brace on either side of the interval to give his team a cushion. Debutant Karon Swiderski scored his first international goal late on in the match after coming on as a substitute for Lewandowski.
Poland have scored three goals in both their qualifiers so far. Before thrashing Andorra, the Eagles played out an entertaining 3-3 draw against Hungary. Lewandowski was again among the goals, as was Hertha Berlin forward Krzysztof Piatek. Nonetheless, their strikes weren’t enough to hand Poland a win.
England have a much favourable record against their next opponents. The Three Lions have met the Eagles nineteen times in football history, losing just once! They are unbeaten against their European counterpart since 1973 and have won eleven times since then. Southgate’s men have a considerable advantage heading into their next match since Lewandowski has been ruled out with an injury.
Mason Mount: Gareth Southgate has defended his star midfielder vehemently in the past amid accusations of favouritism. However, Mount has justified his selection each time and is finally turning the tide of fan opinion in his favour. A consequence of his fine form is that he is expected to start again versus Poland – his third game in a week. The Eagles, thus, will have to be wary of the youngster whose biggest asset is his energy – whether he is using it to disrupt opposition build-up or charging forward towards the goal.
Harry Kane: Captain Kane is leading the Three Lions by example. He scored this 33rd international goal in their previous match against Albania – a fine headed finish following a Luke Shaw cross. Kane was rested in England’s first match against San Marino. Therefore, it is likely that he gets the nod to spearhead the attack for the second time in the space of four days. He is among the best strikers in the world and can give any defence a troublesome time.
Krzysztof Piatek: Big things were expected of Piatek when he moved to AC Milan from Genoa. However, it did not go according to plan for the Polish forward, who now finds himself in a struggling Hertha Berlin side. Piatek, however, has the chance to step up for his national team in the absence of Lewandowski. He has the skills to make a difference. Whether he does is another question altogether.
Piotr Zielinski: Another Poland stalwart who will have to bear the additional responsibility in the absence of Lewandowski is Zielinski. The Napoli star is a threat from midfield, especially in terms of scoring goals. If left unmarked, he could cause havoc with his timed runs into the box. Shackling him in the middle of the pitch will make England’s task much easier. As such, the onus lies on the midfielders to keep an eye on him at all times.
Southgate’s England side is an exciting one, even if their football says so otherwise at times. There is an array of talent for the England coach to choose from, with players like Raheem Sterling, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, and Jesse Lingard all game-changers in their own right. Which team the coach selects will provide interesting insight, and a possible glimpse into the future, with the Euros on the horizon.
Poland are already weakened due to the unavailability of Lewandowski. The European outfit does have the squad to square up against the best on the continent. Nevertheless, the Bayern striker will be a big miss for them.
It isn’t easy to see where the goals will come from for Poland. England, as a result, have a much easier task than they would’ve previously imagined. With the talent at the display for the Three Lions, a win would not be a surprise.