Poland vs Argentina Prediction
30th November 2022
22:00 Qatar Time/19:00 GMT
Stadium 974, Doha
World Cup Head-to-Head Record
Poland vs Argentina Prediction Match Overview
Poland vs Argentina is a must win game for both sides in Group C. After their turgid goalless opening draw with Mexico, Poland entered the Saudi Arabia match. They knew the Middle Eastern nation had the wind in their sails after defeating Argentina. Indeed, the Saudis pressured Poland for much of the first 35 minutes. However, a Piotr Zielinski strike gave the Poles the lead against the run of play. Saudi Arabia then won a penalty, but Salem Al-Dawsari failed to convert. The Poles had to suffer more pressure in the second half. Eventually, though, they sealed the victory after a mistake let in star striker Robert Lewandowski for his first-ever World Cup goal. The Saudis tested them, though, and had about 64 per cent possession.
Argentina entered the match against fellow Americas nation Mexico under incredible strain after their shocking 2-1 loss against Saudi Arabia in their opening game. Facing relentless criticism from back home (as did Mexico), both teams started relatively poorly in what was a tepid but characteristically fiery first half. The game seemed to be drifting away from Argentina. However, halfway through the second half, Lionel Messi found space on the edge of the box with a typically beautiful first touch. He fired a left-foot shot into the bottom corner. The Mexicans tried valiantly to get back into it but lacked the quality. Substitute Enzo Fernandez curled a beautiful right-foot shot into the top corner with three minutes remaining. Argentina won, but they have yet to show the form in this tournament that led to a 36-game undefeated run before its commencement.
Both teams now enter Poland vs Argentina with mixed ideas. Poland know a draw will see them through, so they might be tempted to play conservatively. They can, though, qualify with a loss depending on permutations. Argentina need at least a draw, but a win would see them qualify and likely in the first place. Poland will likely play in the negative style they have so far. However, Argentina will be buoyed by their result against Mexico and will likely go for the jugular.
Injuries and Suspensions
Might not play:
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Poland vs Argentina Prediction Analysis
Possible Changes from the Previous Games
Poland might drop Arkadiusz Milik and bring in an extra midfielder for insurance. They only need a point, and they seem to be playing without much adventure, so they might pack the midfield. Therefore, Sebastian Szymanski might start. Playing for a draw is risky, but we do not expect them to be expansive in this match.
We don’t expect Argentina to make too many changes. Lisandro Martinez will probably continue in defence after winning the place from an injured Cristian Romero. Gonzalo Montiel or Nahuel Molina at right-back could go either way, but we will go with the former. Enzo Fernandez added much energy and guile to the Argentinean midfield when he entered the fray against Mexico, and we predict he will start. Alongside Alexis Mac Allister, the Argentinean midfield looks more mobile and creative than with the likes of Leandro Paredes and Papu Gomez in there.
The Contest for the Midfield
The battle for midfield supremacy could be pretty intriguing in Poland vs Argentina. As stated, Poland might bolster their midfield, with Sebastian Szymanski joining Krystian Bielik and Grzegorz Krychowiak. All three are hard-working, industrious midfielders who do their best to close passing lanes and ensure no gaps between the lines. They will have to be disciplined as Messi likes to drop deep into these spaces, play little triangles between him and the midfielders, and then pop it off wide. Messi links the entire play for Argentina, and we expect Alexis Mac Allister, Angel Di Maria and Enzo Fernandez to aid him in this. Rodrigo De Paul will be his usual frantic and energetic self, performing a box-to-box role and giving the Polish midfielders no time on the ball. Indeed, we expect Argentina to be more active than they have been in the first two games. They were passive against Saudi Arabia and Mexico and didn’t engage the opposition or press high.
The Polish midfielders don’t display much composure against a press, so a more energetic and younger Argentinian midfield will give them more zest and bite. Poland, for their part, will look to Piotr Zielinski to drop deep to help the possible three-player midfield. Zielinski has a crucial role as he must also support Lewandowski when Poland have the ball. Argentina will likely dominate possession. Therefore, transitions will be vital for Poland, and they must try to catch Argentina out when Argentina lose the ball. In this situation, Fernandez and Mac Allister’s greater intensity than Paredes and Gomez could pay dividends. Argentina really should control the game with the players at their disposal.
The width will undoubtedly be important in the Poland vs Argentina game. Messi tends to float everywhere with his free role, and we see him pop up on the left, right, and central areas. He may well play as a quasi-attacking midfielder behind Lautaro Martinez for spells of this game, looking for pockets he can exploit. When he is wider, he will be joined by the Argentinean full-backs to try to link play and give him an overlap. As always, his diagonal ball played over the top to a full-back breaking the opposition’s defensive line could be a dangerous weapon. He will also look to take on Przemyslaw Frankowski and Matty Cash. Angel Di Maria is also crucial, as he has displayed an ability to deliver beautiful crosses from the right in the first two games. However, he will expect more Argentina players to be in the box to attack the ball.
Julian Alvarez has come on in the first two games, and he is a number 9/winger hybrid who can come in off the left and try to link play. He might give the Argentines more numbers out wide than Martinez does, though he is not yet the centre-forward that Martinez is. Di Maria, Messi, Acuna, and Montiel/Molina must link up well with each other to try to expose the spaces the Polish wing-backs might leave. They can come inside onto the centre-backs to play passes or shoot. It is, therefore, crucial that the Polish midfielders fill in these spaces. By playing wide, Argentina will stretch Poland from side to side and create gaps in the middle that Mac Allister or Fernandez can fill when the ball comes back centrally. The two midfielders can get their shots on goals or find passes into Martinez. Argentina can therefore go down the sides or through the middle, and this uncertainty will keep Poland guessing.
For Poland, Cash and Frankowski must do their best to keep the Argentinean full-backs pinned back as much as possible. If they can keep them reigned in, they are less likely to cause havoc at the other end. Zielinski will also drift out wide. The Napoli player and the Polish wing-backs must try to deliver good crosses for Lewandowski to attack. Lisandro Martinez is not the tallest centre-back, so Lewandowski might find some success in targeting him aerially. In saying that, Martinez tends to win headers for a man of his short stature. Regardless, the Polish wide players must link the play in the Argentinean half to create gaps and, just as importantly, relieve the pressure on the Polish central midfielders.
Messi vs Lewandowski
Messi and Lewandowski are arguably their respective country’s greatest-ever players, and rightly or wrongly, Poland vs Argentina will be billed as a face-off between them. Even at his advanced age, Messi is still the better all-round player. However, in this match, Lewandowski’s hold-up play, intelligent positioning and finishing will be critical for Poland. Those attributes will aid them both in getting them up the pitch and converting any chances which come their way. Messi, for his part, will look to dominate the game both in general play and in goalscoring. It may seem reductionist to say this, but whoever performs better of the two may well create the moments that lead their team to victory.
Poland Key Players
Szczesny made an excellent penalty save against Saudi Arabia, and the follow-up was even better. It was a sensational save. Against Argentina, the Polish goalkeeper will likely have to perform similar shoot-stopping feats, as we expect Argentina to get their act together and show more enthusiasm given the prize of a round-of-16 place. Szczesny will likely have to save efforts from Di Maria and Messi, especially as both are dangerous from inside and outside the box on their brilliant left feet. Szczesny will also have to come for low crosses, as the Argentineans will likely try to deliver balls across the face of goal if they get in behind. In starting moves, Szczesny must display good distribution and not kick the ball long all the time. This situation has been a problem for Poland. They don’t want Argentina to retain the ball and intensify the pressure on them.Szczesny made an excellent penalty save against Saudi Arabia, and the follow-up was even better. It was a sensational save. Against Argentina, the Polish goalkeeper will likely have to perform similar shoot-stopping feats, as we expect Argentina to get their act together and show more enthusiasm given the prize of a round-of-16 place. Szczesny will likely have to save efforts from Di Maria and Messi, especially as both are dangerous from inside and outside the box on their brilliant left feet. Szczesny will also have to come for low crosses, as the Argentineans will likely try to deliver balls across the face of goal if they get in behind. In starting moves, Szczesny must display good distribution and not kick the ball long all the time. This situation has been a problem for Poland. They don’t want Argentina to retain the ball and intensify the pressure on them.
Lewandowski is an outstanding striker with a fantastic goalscoring record. Understandably, though, he gets fewer chances on goal in this Polish team than at Barcelona. Poland are creatively bereft compared to Barcelona. However, it is a testament to Lewandowski’s ability and mentality that he manages to carve chances out and still keeps trying despite being surrounded by inferior players. Against Argentina, Lewandowski must try to hold the ball to allow Zielinski and the wing-backs to support him. Lisandro Martinez and Nicolas Otamendi can be proactive defenders, so he must beware of them intercepting the ball or nicking it away from him. Having scored his first-ever World Cup goal against the Saudis, Lewandowski will fancy getting on the scoresheet again in Poland vs Argentina.
Argentina Key Players
We thought about selecting a midfielder, but with Lewandowski on the prowl, we have gone with Lisandro Martinez. Martinez might not play, as there is a chance that Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni will prefer Cristian Romero. Still, Martinez played well against Mexico and has displayed in his time at Ajax and this season at Manchester United that he is a solid, aggressive defender. We think Scaloni will select him. He will play on the front foot, looking to engage Lewandowski when the ball approaches the Polish striker. However, Lisandro must be careful of being too eager, as if he overcommits, there is a chance that Poland could get in behind. As stated, he is short, so crossing into the box could be a problem. However, he has displayed that intelligent positioning can compensate for the lack of height.
Even at age 35, Messi is Argentina’s star man and central to everything they do. As ever, he will be tasked with creating and scoring the goals that win the Argentines the match. He will look for little pockets and find spaces where he can play the ball wide, play cute little through balls, or shoot himself. Messi has been criticised for several years now for walking on the pitch. It can be debated that, for as much as he offers in possession, he might be a liability without the ball, and Argentina might be carrying him in this respect. However, Argentina have energetic midfielders and full-backs so will see his lack of work rate as worth the risk. Overall, Messi must pick his moments to knit the play and create. We see him scoring in this match, as in the previous two.
Poland vs Argentina Prediction
Poland and Argentina have both looked lethargic throughout the group stage. In particular, Poland have approached their games negatively, in the same spirit as most of their recent tournament appearances. Argentina are unrecognisable from the team that was undefeated for 36 matches. However, sometimes teams play their way into tournaments, and we see Argentina finally putting in a good performance in the Poland vs Argentina game. We expect Poland to do their best to try to make it a scrappy, ugly game and Argentina to dominate the ball and open the Europeans up. It will probably be a close game, and with Lewandowski’s threat and perhaps Milik off the bench, Poland can score. However, we fancy Argentina to edge the contest. Even if Saudi Arabia beat Mexico, Argentina should have a better goal difference to clinch first place. Poland’s tournament future might depend on permutations.