It isn’t a secret that Robert Lewandowski is the face of the Polish national team. In fact, Poland did very good qualifiers except for the 6-0 loss in Copenhagen against Denmark.
Coach Adam Nawalka has a good mixture of experience and talented players to use. Especially in Piotr Zielinski who is getting more and more key status in a strong Napoli team.
The real question is whether Poland can find more creative solutions when going forward. Opponents understood that many balls will go to Lewandowski and will cope well with this being figured out.
That being said, Poland’s success will not only depend on one striker but also the flexibility of the team. Versatility will be needed in an extremely even group. Technical Colombia, quick and physical Senegal and experienced Japan are in the same group.
Poland will face three different oppositions and will need to get out of their safe-play style in order to gain results.
To watch out for: In order to filter out the most obvious answer, being Lewandowski. Midfielder Piotr Zielinski will play an important role and be the one who takes initiatives.
He is used to dictating games in Napoli, but with more limited space. Not necessarily being the best team in the group, all his qualities will be put to the test immediately.
The Colombians finished 4th in the South American qualifiers, showing good defensive performances especially.
New wonderkid at the back, Davidson Sanchez (Tottenham) could partner up with Yerri Mina and combine for one of the youngest (perhaps the youngest) center back pair in the tournament at 21 and 23 years old respectively.
The team is led by a very experienced man in Jose Nestor Pekerman since 2012, and as such will always be hard working and organized.
It is difficult to break this Colombian team down, as they have good physicality and size on them, combined with technical brilliance.
They are very versatile, which will suit them well in this group together with Poland, Senegal, and Japan – three very different teams
To watch out for: We mentioned it earlier. How will this young defense cope against top class opponents?
On an individual level, it is always fun to see if James Rodriguez and score one of those wonder goals. He is the key to everything going through the midfield and therefore he deserves to be mentioned in this category.
With nearly twice as many points as the runners-up in the qualifiers, Senegal certainly stormed their way into World Cup with convincing performances.
We have not seen Senegal on the big scenes since 2002 in South Korea/Japan, where they beat Sweden in golden goal to progress.
Coach Aliou Cisse was part of the team back in 2002, and now he has guided his nation back to the World Cup.
With emerging stars such as Sadio Mane and Idrissa Gueye, Senegal has good chances to collect points in the most evenly matched group containing Poland, Colombia, and Japan where Senegal have solid chances to finish among the two best.
The defense is promising with Kalidou Koulibaly from Napoli, while the midfield is Premier League influenced by Cheikh Kouyate and Idrissa Gueye – both rock solid physical defensive midfielders.
To watch out for: Keita Balde and Sadio Mane make for the quickest flanks in the World Cup.
If Senegal plays to their strengths which is physicality and pace, they can progress further than the group stage.
FootyTool says Welcome back, Senegal.
Participating in their 6th consecutive World Cup tournament, Japan certainly belongs to one of Asia’s best teams. They have a very loyal, consistent and experienced team.
Defenders Sakai, Nagatomo, and Yoshida have over 220 international matches combined. Also, the attack being led by Okazaki with over 100 international matches, as well as Kagawa, Honda, and Konno with nearly hundred each.
This might be one of the most internationally experienced teams when it comes to representing the nation. Being led by Bosnian coach Vahid Halilhodzic, who has led Algeria as late as 2014, there is a solid base of leadership in this team.
To watch out for: The speed! This might be the agilest team in the tournament and should have potential to be a dangerous counter team with much creativity and speed on the flanks in particular.
For talent monitoring, keep an extra eye on forwards Asano, and Kubo, born 1994 and 1993 respectively.