Poland vs Saudi Arabia Prediction
26th November 2022
16:00 Qatar Time/13:00 GMT
Education City Stadium, Al Rayyan
World Cup Head-to-Head Record
Poland vs Saudi Arabia Prediction Match Overview
Poland’s opening match was a drab affair with Mexico, with the Mexicans having the better of the play. Indeed, the Mexicans had 58 per cent of the possession. Poland played the way they typically have in recent times, sitting back, absorbing pressure and trying to hit on the break. However, star striker Robert Lewandowski cut an isolated, unsupported figure and looked visibly frustrated. This frustration will have been exacerbated by Mexican goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa saving his second-half penalty. A point was a good result for Poland on the balance of play.
On the other hand, Saudi Arabia submitted a spirited performance, pulling off one of the great World Cup shocks by coming from behind to beat South American champions Argentina. The Saudis played a high line throughout the match. Argentina were caught offside ten times in a somewhat amateur fashion. Indeed, Argentina had three goals ruled out in the first half besides Lionel Messi’s penalty. However, the Saudis were rewarded with two beautiful quick-fire finishes from Saleh Al-Shehri and Salem Al-Dawsari. They will enter Poland vs Saudi Arabia with confidence.
Injuries and Suspensions
Might not play:
Will not play: Al-Faraj, Al-Shahrani (Saudi Arabia)
Poland vs Saudi Arabia Prediction Analysis
Possible Changes from the First Matches
Poland are at full fitness. After a poor performance in their opening game, we anticipate that Arkadiusz Milik might be brought into the team for Jakub Kaminski. This change would offer Robert Lewandowski some more support up front. Poland must win this game as they play Argentina in the last match. We expect them to play three at the back and a 3-4-1-2 or similar system. They hope to show much more attacking intent than they did against Mexico. As stated, Yasser Al-Shahrani and Salman Al-Faraj are out for Saudi Arabia. Al-Shahrani’s horrible collision with his goalkeeper Mohammed Al-Owais was concerning, and he fractured his jaw. Thankfully he seems okay after surgery. Al-Faraj has a hamstring injury. Their replacements could be Mohammed Al-Breik and Nawaf Al-Abed, as they also came on for them during the Argentina match. We expect the Saudis to maintain their four-at-the-back system and high line as it served them so well against Argentina. They will not fear a lacklustre Poland side.
The Wide Areas and Midfield Battle
In Poland vs Saudi Arabia, the wide areas will be critical. It was down the sides of Argentina that the Saudis found so much joy, getting in behind the Argentine full-backs and wingers as the Argentineans left gaps and exposed themselves. Mohammed Al-Breik and Saud Abdulhamid can find joy in these areas. Winger Salem Al-Dawsari is a very tricky customer. He and Al-Buraikan can peel off their Polish counterparts to come inside and face the Polish back three. In these areas, Al-Dawsari has already shown he can create magic moments through beautiful dribbling and curling shots into the far corner. The Poles will have to beware of his threat and that of Al-Breik on the overlap supporting him. The Poles can be dangerous in these areas too. Matty Cash and Nicola Zalewski are energetic and lively wing-backs who can get forward and supply the crosses where Lewandowski and Milik thrive. Indeed, superstar Lewandowski will require much more service than he received against Mexico. It remains to be seen if Poland will play so negatively yet again.
Saudi Arabia have two more points than Poland and have already played Argentina, so they can arguably be more conservative. However, they will likely maintain the high line, which allows them to condense the space, make their team more compact and press higher. We expect Mohamed Kanno, Abdulellah Al-Malki and Nawaf Al-Abed in the Saudi midfield to work tirelessly. They will constantly press Sebastian Syzmanski, Grzegorz Krychowiak, and Piotr Zielinski to try to win the midfield contest and supply their wingers and forwards. If they can do this, the already mentioned wide men are a massive threat and can link with Saleh Al-Shehri up top to possibly create one-on-ones with Wojciech Szczesny. The midfield area is, therefore, integral in this match, and we fancy the Saudis to win it due to their side’s energy, pressing and compactness.
The Polish attack
It is abundantly apparent that Lewandowski is generally playing with a lower quality of player than he has been used to at Borussia Dortmund, Bayern Munich, and Barcelona. However, he can still score a goal from nothing in the blink of an eye. His hold-up play with his back to goal is essential as he is unlikely to run into the channels. If Poland can pair him with Milik and get Zielinski near them in support to play little through balls, they might find some success in Poland vs Saudi Arabia. It is also imperative that the wing-backs deliver crosses for the two physical Polish strikers to attack. Hassan Al-Tambakti was imperious in defence for Saudi Arabia against Argentina, and he will have to replicate his reading of the game, intercepting, and aerial prowess against Lewandowski.
Poland can bring on Przemyslaw Franchowski, Jakub Kaminski, or Kamil Grosicki as alternative wide options. Karol Swiderski and Krzysztof Piatek are positive forward options if they want to throw the kitchen sink or replace Milik. The Saudis can use Sultan Al-Ghannam at right-back or bring on Abdullah Otayf in midfield for fresh legs. Youngster Haitham Asiri can replace one of the forward players too. Hattan Bahebri is another wide option.
Poland Key Players
Cash has proved in his time at Aston Villa that he is a capable right-back, both a threat in attack and solid enough defensively. In this game, he will have to be both. In attack, he must supply Lewandowski (and Milik if he plays) with crosses that the Polish frontman can attack. Cash will also look to link play with Zielinski, but he will need to use all his energy and stamina to get up and down the pitch. He must be very sensible in choosing his moments. The threat of winger Salem Al-Dawsari is evident and something Argentinean right-back Nahuel Molina found to his cost. Cash must be very careful in dealing with the tricky Saudi Arabian.
It might seem frivolous or a cop-out to select Lewandowski as a key player every time Poland play. However, truthfully there are very few sides in this tournament which rely on a talisman as much as Poland depend on him. He is their best and sometimes their only source of goals. He looked increasingly frustrated against Mexico due to the lack of support and penalty miss. Getting Milik on the pitch next to him and Zielinski closer to him would help, as would crosses coming in from the wing-backs. Lewandowski will have to produce his usual great hold-up play too. Chances are likely to be at a premium for Poland, so if he gets one or two, he will have to convert in his usual clinical manner.
Saudi Arabia Key Players
Al-Tambakti was fantastic against Argentina. He seemed to be everywhere, making crucial interceptions, reading the game intelligently, and closing down Argentina’s world-class attackers. He will have to produce more of the same in Poland vs Saudi Arabia against the dangerous Lewandowski. Al-Tambakti certainly possesses the strength and physical presence to match Lewandowski. He is quicker than the Pole, too, given that he is more than a decade younger. Al-Tambakti will be responsible for containing Lewandowski, and he must do this well. He is also good on the ball. Hence, Saudi Arabia won’t mind keeping a high line, as Lewandowski and Milik are unlikely to run into the spaces behind them. This situation will also allow the Saudis to be more compact and press higher up the pitch. Thus, Al-Tambakti will be crucial in starting moves off from defence.
Al-Dawsari was a real livewire against Argentina and capped his buzzy performance off with the winning goal. It indeed was a beautiful goal; a little mazy dribble in the box, then a ferocious right-foot shot curled into the top corner past a helpless Emi Martinez. The Saudis will look to Al-Dawsari to produce more of the same magic against Poland. He will look to receive the ball from the Saudi midfielders and get into the little spaces wide left which Cash vacates as the Polish right wing-back moves forward. In this left-hand channel, Al-Dawsari can create, playing cute little balls inside for Al-Shehri or cutting inside on his right foot to devastating effect. He will likely be the main threat for the Saudis in this game.
Poland vs Saudi Arabia Prediction
Poland vs Saudi Arabia looks like a tricky game to predict. Poland are nowhere near as strong on paper as the Argentinean team that the Saudis shocked, but of course, every game is different. However, Poland appear to lack pace in forward areas. This lack of speed should allow the Saudis to play the same high line they did against Argentina. With this compactness, they will be able to press the Polish midfield and attempt to control the game. Poland seem to be a slow, sluggish team that is far too reliant on an ageing Lewandowski. Their wing-backs and Zielinski can make a difference, but they must improve their form quickly. We are very tempted to predict a Saudi win in this match, which would secure their qualification to the knockout stages. However, we will play a bit safer and predict a 1-1 draw. Lewandowski can get off the mark in this match, but Poland’s performance is unlikely to be pretty.