Poland’s uphill battle to World Cup qualification
By Jan Zyla
On the 26th of November 2021 the European qualifier Playoff round draw for the World Cup was held and Poland have been drawn against Russia and on the other side of the bracket the teams drawn are Czech Republic and Sweden.
In the European Qualifiers for the World Cup proper Poland finished in 2nd place which meant they would need to go into a playoff round in order to qualify. Poland finished 2nd with 20 points 6 points below England who finished group winners with 26 points. The other teams involved in group I were Albania who finished with 18 points, Hungary who finished with 17 points, Andorra who finished with 6 points and finally San Marino who lost all of their games and therefore finished with 0 points.
Poland will have to go through Russia first of all if they have any chance of going to the World Cup in Qatar. Russia will be a very tough test for Paulo Sousa’s men. The last 5 games between Russia and Poland finished as follows: 1 win for Russia in 1996, 1 win for Poland in 1998 and 3 draws more recently in 2007, 2012 and 2021. The past 5 games prove that Poland will have to be at their very best in order to beat Russia. Poland have a history of under performing on big occasions such as coming in 4th place at the Euros in 2021 after only gaining 1 point from matches against Spain, Slovakia and Sweden.
However, Poland did get a boost in their team selection as they recently acquired the services of Aston Villa Right Back Matty Cash. Cash was born in England however his mother is Polish and therefore he was able to gain a Polish passport in October 2021 and then he went onto make his debut for the national side the following month. With this acquisition Poland gained much needed star power in their ranks as up to now the Polish national team has had to heavily rely on the goals of Robert Lewandowski ever since the national team retirements of Jakub Blaszczykowski and Lukasz Piszczek. Therefore, the acquisition of Matty Cash is a breath of fresh air into the Polish National Team.
Furthermore, in addition to the arrival of Matty Cash in the National Team setup, Poland also have very good young players coming through including the likes of Brighton midfielder Jakub Moder and Fiorentina’s shot-stopper Bartlomiej Dragowski who are really impressing at club level and fans of Poland are hoping they can impress Paolo Sousa enough that they could get a crack at the national team. If Poland setup in the right way with all of the players mentioned above then Poland will stand a chance going up against Russia and coming out the victors.
However, if Poland do manage to get through Russia, then after that they will either have to face Czech Republic or Sweden. Both of these teams will prove to be a very big test for Sousa’s Poland team. Firstly, Czech Republic will be a tough test because of how well the Czech team play together. The likes of West Hams Tomas Soucek and Bayer Leverkusen’s Patrik Schick will be a very tough match for even Matty Cash in defence. Similarly, if Poland were to face Sweden it would also be a tough task for them as the two teams faced off at the Euros 2020 and Sweden were comfortable winners even though it finished 3-2 Sweden were all over Poland through 2/3s of the match. Also, with the likes of Alexander Isak and Emil Forsberg in the Sweden Line-up Poland need to hope that Robert Lewandowski and co. will be in the best form in order to get through Sweden into the World Cup 2022 in Qatar.