World Cup: Saudis fancy chance, Poland look for goals
Contrasting moods will accompany Poland and Saudi Arabia into their World Cup Group C clash on Saturday, with all the pressure on the former after they started with a disappointing goalless draw while the Saudis shocked Argentina.
Saudi Arabia stunned the world by beating Lionel Messi’s fancied Argentines 2-1 on Tuesday and could upset the odds again against a Poland side who fluffed their lines versus Mexico when Robert Lewandowski, who has never scored at a World Cup, missed a penalty.
The Saudis, who are the second-lowest ranked team in the tournament, will eye their second-ever round of 16 after they were knocked out by Sweden back in 1994.
For Poland, a win is vital to their hopes of reaching the last 16 for the first time since 1986. “This result does not take away the chances of advancing further neither from us nor the Mexicans,” Poland coach Czeslaw Michniewicz said after Tuesday’s stalemate.
Michniewicz appeared upset when asked to comment on general dissatisfaction with the defensive lineup in their 0-0 draw, asking who should he drop to bolster the attack.
Striker Lewandowski cut a lonely figure once again in the first half against Mexico’s rugged back line before Michniewicz shifted tactics and told Piotr Zielinski to play higher up, a change that led to Poland creating more chances. The Poland coach introduced a second striker in the 87th minute when Zielinski was substituted by Arkadiusz Milik.
“When someone asks me if it’s possible to set a different lineup, I answer: ‘Of course it is possible. But at the expense of whom?’,” Michniewicz said.
“If you, journalists, would like to field some other player, just say for whom because we can’t play 12. If you want a second striker, then you have to drop someone from that lineup.”