By 90Min
June 18, 2018

In what is arguably the most open of all of the groups at this year's World Cup, Poland and Senegal conclude the opening round of fixtures when they face each other at the Otkrytie Arena on Tuesday. 

With Group F also boasting Colombia and Japan - who play earlier in the day - both sides know how important a win would be in Moscow to start their World Cup campaign on the right note, as the tournament in Russia marks the return to football's biggest tournament for the pair.

Poland haven't featured at the World Cup since going out at the group stage in Germany in 2006, while Senegal have had to wait a little longer, with their only appearance to date coming in 2002. Both sides will want to mark their return to the competition with three vital points. 


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Poland made light work of making it to Russia, finishing top of Group E in qualifying, taking 25 of a possible 30 points, while the potent Bayern Munich star Robert Lewandowski was the top scorer across Europe in qualifying, netting 16 goals, one more than Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo.

Their form prior to the tournament, however, has been somewhat mixed, winning two of their four friendlies, putting four past Lithuania in their final warm-up game before the World Cup, although a 1-0 defeat against fellow African side Nigeria in March will give The Lions of Teranga confidence ahead of the Group F encounter.

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For Senegal, booking their place at the World Cup was also routine, finishing top of Group D during the third round of qualifying, winning four of their six games to do so, drawing the other two. 

Regarding their preparations after the qualification stage, Senegal drew three of their five friendlies prior to Russia, while a 2-1 defeat to Croatia preceded their final warm-up game, a 

2-0 win against South Korea to enter the tournament on a high. 


World Cup Highlight


A pair of third place finishes for the Red and Whites is the most success Poland have enjoyed at a World Cup, suffering defeats in both years to the eventual winners.

In their final game in the second group phase against West Germany, a 1-0 defeat resigned Poland to a third-place playoff against Brazil, where Grzegorz Lato's 76th minute goal enough to earn them their best finish at a World Cup.

The feat would be repeated eight years later during the 1982 tournament, when Italy inflicted Poland's only defeat of the competition, losing 2-0 at the Nou Camp thanks to a brace from that year's top scorer, Paolo Rossi. Despite the semi final heartache, Poland would finish in third place, beating France 3-2 to equal their best ever finish. 

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Senegal have only featuring in one World Cup in their history, although it was certainly a memorable one. Qualifying for the 2002 edition in Japan and South Korea, their tournament got off to the best possible start, beating defending champions France 1-0 in their opening game. 

Two draws in their remaining group games secured Senegal a place in the knockout stages, with the feel-good factor continuing after beating Sweden 2-1 in the round of 16, before a 1-0 defeat to Turkey in the quarter final put and end to their maiden World Cup adventure. 


Team News

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Poland manager Adam Nawalka looks to have his full 23 man squad to choose from ahead of the opening game against Senegal, with Kamil Glik appearing to have shaken off a recent shoulder injury to make himself available.

For Senegal manager Aliou Cisse meanwhile, he will be without full back Saliou Ciss for the entirety of the World Cup, after the 28-year-old sustained an ankle injury in a friendly against Lithuania at the end of May, and has subsequently failed to recover in time.

Cisse has been replaced by Adama Mbengue in a squad that otherwise appears fully available for the game in Russia's capital.


Predicted Line-ups


Poland (4-4-1-1): Fabianski; Piszczek, Glik, Pazdan, Rybus; Blaszczykowski, Krychowiak, Zielinski, Grosicki; Milik; Lewandowski


Senegal (4-2-3-1): Diallo; Sabaly, Koulibaly, Sane, Gassama; N'Diaye, Gueye; Balde, Sarr, Mane; Sakho


Prediction

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Both Poland and Senegal have potential match winners in their side that can help decide the outcome of the game in Moscow, which is what makes this Group F encounter such an intriguing one. 

While the FIFA World Rankings suggest Poland should be outright favourites for the win (8th - 27th), the African side will pose the Poles a number of problems throughout the 90 minutes, although the experience in their group could help see the Poland over the line, with the threat of an in-form Lewandowski enough to give the European side the three points in their opening group game.

Prediction: Poland 2-1 Senegal

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