Belgium will be keen to do the double over Poland in their UEFA Nations League at the National Stadium in Warsaw on Tuesday.
Belgium will travel to Warsaw to take on Poland in their UEFA Nations League group stage clash on Tuesday. Both teams are coming off draws that did them no favour in their efforts to progress further in the competition.
Poland, in particular, will be keen to get back at Belgium for the 6-1 hammering inflicted on them on Matchday 2. It was a cruel reminder of the chasm in quality between both sides and the Bialo-Czerwoni will be keen to make amends in front of their home crowd.
Both teams have four points apiece after three games and trail leaders, the Netherlands, by three points. Poland, for their part, were close to upsetting the Dutch in their own backyard but had to rely on a stoppage-time penalty miss from Memphis Depay to escape with anything to show for their efforts.
Belgium, too, are coming off a disappointing result that saw them drop two points to bottom-placed Wales. Roberto Martinez’s charges were the first team to drop points against the Dragons at the end of Matchday 3.
They have every reason to be confident about their trip to Poland and have the better squad. The hosts might not have been dominant against the Oranje but showed off their clinical side on the night. Belgium cannot afford to be complacent and could be victims of a grand upset should they take the foot off their gas.
It promises to be an intriguing game, and the winner on the night will take a huge step forward in their efforts to qualify for the next round. The Hard Tackle looks at how both sides can line up on the night and what tactics they might deploy.
Team News & Tactics
Czeslaw Michniewicz will be without Jakub Moder but has an otherwise full-strength side to choose from. The Poland head coach is set to make several changes to the side that faced the Netherlands earlier last week.
Szymon Zurkowski, Kamil Gilk, Wojciech Szczesny and Robert Lewandowski could all return to the playing XI. With home support to boot, Poland could give Belgium a run for their money.
The Red and Whites are likely to deploy their side in a 4-2-3-1 system that should focus on gaining the initiative in midfield. Szczesny will start in goal behind a back four of Bartosz Bereszynski, Jan Bednarek, Kamil Glik and Matty Cash. The right-back, in particular, was impressive against the Dutch and will hope to enjoy similar success against Belgium.
The duo of Grzegorz Krychowiak and Szymon Zurkowski. How well the double pivot can dictate terms in the middle of the pitch could determine how the trio of Nicola Zalewski, Piotr Zielinski and Przemyslaw Frankowski get forward and fashion opportunities for Robert Lewandowski.
Poland will do well to get off to a good start and pin Belgium back from the kick-off whistle. Martinez’s side have shown to have a soft underbelly at times and could be there for the taking should Poland get their tactics right.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Szczesny; Cash, Glik, Bednarek, Bereszynski; Krychowiak, Zurkowski; Frankowski, Zielinski, Zalewski; Lewandowski
Despite the 6-1 thrashing last time around, Belgium have a poor record against Poland in recent times. They have lost five of the last seven games against the East Europeans and could be set for another difficult night in Warsaw.
The Red Devils for all their talent have failed to win a single major international tournament. It can be argued that this year’s UEFA Nations League and FIFA World Cup represent a final opportunity for many of their vaunted golden generation to experience glory. A win away to Poland in a hostile atmosphere will certainly be a result to keep an eye out for and could also act as a morale booster for the games to come.
Roberto Martinez will be without several key players and will need to get his tactics right on the night. Kevin De Bruyne, Yannick Carrasco and Thomas Meunier will not be part of the matchday squad, while Axel Witsel and Dedryck Boyata are doubts for the game.
Showing the way. #DEVILTIME pic.twitter.com/MFzmObpqzX
— Belgian Red Devils (@BelRedDevils) June 13, 2022
It is a testament to Belgium’s strength in depth that they can still field a competitive side. A 3-4-2-1 formation appears to be the fad, with Koen Casteels in goal behind a back three of Jan Vertonghen, Toby Alderweireld and Leander Dendoncker. The trio form an experienced rearguard, but their lack of pace could prove costly.
Much will depend on how well Hans Vanaken and Youri Tielemeans can seize the advantage in midfield. The onus will be on them to prevent players like Piotr Zielinski from letting loose through balls to Lewandowski. Alexis Saelemaekers and Thorgan Hazard will start out wide and will be tasked with rushing back when not in possession. This is especially key for Thorgan Hazard, who will be up against Matty Cash.
Dennis Praet and Eden Hazard will act as dual playmakers, behind Michy Batshuayi in the attack. The playing XI is far from Belgium’s strongest lineup but can inflict massive damage if allowed to run riot.
Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Casteels; Dendoncker, Alderweireld, Vertonghen; Saelemaekers, Vanaken, Tielemans, Thorgan Hazard; Eden Hazard, Praet; Batshuayi
- Poland and Belgium have faced off against each other in 20 matches, with each team coming out on top seven times each.
- Notwithstanding their 6-1 hammering, Poland have won five of their last seven games against Belgium.
- Belgium’s formidable frontline has found the back of the net for 43 international games now. The last time they were shut out by an opposing side was against France in the semi-finals of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
- Poland, for their part, have failed to experience a shutout in their last 21 international games.
Player to Watch
The Polish ace sat out of the clash against the Netherlands and will be keen to make amends for the 6-1 loss to Belgium. One of the finest strikers in the world, Lewandowski is a difficult player to pin down and is often clinical in the box.
Lewandowski will spearhead the Polish attack on the night and will be his teammates’ preferred target upfront. Belgium have kept just one clean sheet in seven games and could have their hands full on the night. Piotr Zielinski was impressive against the Netherlands and could fashion several opportunities for the 33-year-old.
Lewandowski is Poland’s biggest threat, and Belgium can lock away a major part of the visitors’ offence by marking him out of the game. The Bayern Munich ace is out for revenge and is one player who can carry his side to victory single-handedly.
Poland 2-2 Belgium
Despite the 6-1 loss last time around, Poland were largely in the game until around the hour mark. They shot themselves in the foot late on and let in a slew of goals to give the scoreline a very flattering touch. Poland followed it up with a rather clinical performance against the Netherlands and will be thirsting for revenge now that they are back home.
With Robert Lewandowski also set to return, the hosts will prove to be daunting opponents. Belgium undoubtedly are the better team on paper but have failed to attain their full potential under Martinez. They could be there for the taking, and it should prove to be an interesting game. Both sides are likely to play out an entertaining game and share the spoils on the night.
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