Poland vs Argentina — Preview

Match Preview

If Argentina’s World Cup qualifying campaign lacked the usual ups and downs, their tournament has already been a rollercoaster ride. They were stunned by 25/1 chances, Saudi Arabia, in their opening game, with La Albiceleste having three goals chalked off for offside, and Expected Goals favouring Argentina by a margin of 2.30 to 0.15. It was the first time Argentina had lost a World Cup Finals match in 90 minutes after scoring first, since 1958. With half an hour remaining against Mexico, the two sides remained deadlocked. Cue Lionel Messi with a moment of magic, and his young teammate, Enzo Fernandez, wasn’t to be outdone, adding a stunning second. If Expected Goals suggested Argentina were unlucky on Matchday 1, their slim 0.35 to 0.18 edge in that statistic indicates that they were fortunate to claim all three points in their second game. The emotional reaction of Poland’s star man, Robert Lewandowski to finally scoring his first World Cup goal spoke volumes. He had seen his penalty saved in the opening scoreless draw against Mexico, but he cashed in on a defensive error to seal three points for The Eagles against Saudi Arabia.

Coach Lionel Scaloni made five changes from the Argentinian team that was so disappointing on opening day but kept faith with his preferred 4-4-2 formation on Matchday 2. Having seen Lewandowski become increasingly isolated in Poland’s first game, it was no surprise when manager Czeslaw Michniewicz chose to put Arkadiusz Milik up top with his star player against the Saudis. World number three, Argentina, will be favoured in this meeting with 26th-ranked Poland. It will be only the third meeting between these nations in the past 35 years, with the Poles winning their last encounter 2-1 in a 2011 friendly. The same again, or a draw, will be enough to put Poland through. Three points will seal Argentina’s place in the last 16, but a draw would mean their fate would be decided by what happens in Group C’s other final fixture.

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