Harry Kane will enjoy a match with Jan Bednarek from Southampton, while Paulo Sousa’s insistence on a high line could leave Poland vulnerable to the counter … the three main clashes in England’s World Cup qualifier
- England is trying to turn it into a series of victories in the fight against Poland
- The Three Lions have seen comfortably from San Marino and Albania this month
- However, the Poles are expected to be a real test for Gareth Southgate’s side
- Here Sportsmail picks the three main battles and the low point over Poland
England will kick off its World Cup qualifier with Poland on Wednesday on the brink of a clean sweep this international hiatus, having swept San Marino and Albania aside with seven goals scored and none against.
However, Poland is unlikely to turn around at Wembley, even if shooter Robert Lewandowski is unavailable. The Poles comfortably pushed Andorra aside 3-0 on their latest outing and will eagerly impress new boss Paulo Sousa on his way to this summer’s European Championship.
Here, Sportsmails NATHAN SALT picks the three main battles expected for the Wembley clash and sets the low point for Wednesday night’s visitors.
England wants to make it three of three victories if they host Poland on Wednesday
Harry Kane to Jan Bednarek
Not a match-up that the Southampton defender will enjoy.
Kane played with him in Tottenham’s 5-2 win at St Mary’s in the Premier League earlier this season and will see his chances at Wembley again.
Hungary’s Adam Szalai caused real trouble for 24-year-old Bednarek when he fell behind last week – and the center-back looked vulnerable on set pieces. Rested against Andorra, Bednarek looks like a likely starter against England.
Harry Kane will enjoy a duel with Southampton defender Jan Bednarek at Wembley
John Stones v Arkadiusz Milik
The Manchester City defender may be relieved that Polish talisman Robert Lewandowski has been eliminated, but Milik is no pushover as he slips on a front two in place of the Bayern Munich forward.
Milik, 27, is a physical presence and will visit Stones early to see what kind of duel he has on his hands. The Marseille forward has certainly been battle tested and more than capable of dominating this match.
Jon Stones (L) is not allowed to compete against Robert Lewandowski, but will have to deal with Arkadiusz Milik (R)
Raheem Sterling v Sebastian Szymanski
A midfielder by trade at Dynamo Moscow – and Szymanski showed it again and again when he was caught defensively in Budapest’s 3-3 draw last week.
Hungary was deployed on the right-back by Polish boss Paulo Sousa and had acres of space behind 21-year-old Szymanski to exploit.
If Manchester City winger Sterling, who started wide on the left for England against San Marino, is in the mood and getting the right service, he may not believe his luck.
Raheem Sterling will try to exploit Sebastian Szymanski, who has played out of position
Scouting report from Poland
New boss Paulo Sousa wants his side to dominate possession.
Only twice in the six Nations League games before arriving, Poland came out on top in that area and it was immediately clear last week against Hungary how he is changing the way they play.
Poland’s new boss, Paulo Sousa, has strived to implement his playing style from the start
Sousa players are urged to pass out from behind, with Brighton’s Jakub Moder standing out in Budapest’s 3-3 draw by shuttling between the boxes.
Even without Robert Lewandowski, Arkadiusz Milik and Krzysztof Piatek Sousa give an attack that can save a defense that still needs work.
While little could be learned from the walk against Andorra, in the clash with Hungary, Sousa wanted his defense to maintain a high line – sometimes so high that every player-bar keeper Wojciech Szczesny was in the opposition half.
Hungary had 35 percent possession of the ball in Budapest, made almost half the number of passes and still ended up with three goals, the first of which came by taking advantage of that high line.
However, the use of a high line by the Poles was exploited by Hungary and is a vulnerable point
It’s likely that Sousa will adjust these tactics before facing England, but if he doesn’t, the match will be won and lost on the wings.
Barnsley’s Michal Helik was a surprise starter in defense for Kamil Glik and he didn’t look comfortable next to Southampton’s Jan Bednarek. England can punish them here.
Former QPR, Swansea and Leicester boss Sousa, 50, shot across the training field knowing he has limited time to convey his ideas. “We started a new trial a few days ago,” he said. “We can’t interrupt it.”
FIVE CLASSIC ENCOUNTERS
1974 World Cup qualifier October 17, 1973, Wembley
England 1 Poland 1
England had to win their last qualifying match to reach the 1974 World Cup. But Polish goalkeeper Jan Tomaszewski – dubbed a ‘clown’ before the game by Brian Clough – made a series of brilliant saves to deny them a place in the tournament, which cost Sir Alf Ramsey his job.
1986 World Cup Group Stage June 11, 1986, Monterrey, Mexico
England 3 Poland 0
Bobby Robson’s side started their last group match under tremendous pressure after losing to Portugal and a draw against Morocco, but Gary Lineker’s hat-trick in the first half sent England through.
European Championship qualifier March 27, 1999, Wembley
England 3 Poland 1
A hat-trick from Paul Scholes got Kevin Keegan off to the perfect start as England manager, but they couldn’t start and ended up in the play-offs – where they supplanted Scotland.
2014 World Cup qualifier October 17, 2012, Warsaw
Poland 1 England 1
This game was canceled minutes before kick-off and postponed for 24 hours due to a soggy field. When it finally got going, Wayne Rooney scored his 32nd goal for England before Kamil Glik leveled with 20 minutes to go.
2014 World Cup qualifier October 15, 2013, Wembley
England 2 Poland 0
Roy Hodgson’s squad had to win their last qualifying match to reach the World Cup. Wayne Rooney opened the scoring with a header in the first half and captain Steven Gerrard hit late to send England to Brazil.