Saudi Arabia 1-0 Poland: What’s your prediction?
Contrasting moods will accompany Poland and Saudi Arabia into their World Cup Group C clash on Saturday, with all the pressure on the Poles after they started with a disappointing goalless draw while the Saudis shocked Argentina.
Saudi Arabia stunned the world by beating the 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 only above Ghana, 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.
Both sides had similarly low possession and only two shots on target in their opening games but for Saudi Arabia that was enough to cause one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history.
Poland, who frustrated their fans and Lewandowski with a defensive approach, must be on the front foot or they could be heading out of the tournament.
26th November, 07:00 pm, Bangladesh time
Education City Stadium, Al-Rayyan
Saudi Arabia: 0
Poland: (3-5-2) Wojciech Szczesny (GK), Kamil Glik, Jakub Kiwior, Matty Cash, Bartosz Bereszynski, Grzegorz Krychowiak, Piotr Zielinski, Krystian Bielik, Przemyslaw Frankowski, Arkadiusz Milik, Robert Lewandowski
Saudi Arabia: (4-1-4-1) Mohamed Al-Owais, Abdulelah Al-Amri, Ali Al-Bulaihi, Mohammed Al-Breik, Mohamed Kanno, Saud Abdulhamid, Abdulelah Al-Malki, Saleh Al-Shehri, Salem Al-Dawsari, Firas Al-Buraikan, Sami Al-Najei.
Prediction: Poland 1-1 Saudi Arabia
* Saudi Arabia's 2-1 victory over Argentina on Tuesday was the biggest shock in World Cup history, according to Nielsen Gracenote. The data company said the 51st-ranked Saudis' chances of winning the game was just 8.7%
* Poland and Saudi Arabia both had less than 40% possession in their Group C openers. Poland had 39% in their 0-0 draw with Mexico and Saudi Arabia 31% against Argentina
* Poland played in their first World Cup in 1938 but had to wait 36 years for their next appearance, when they finished third. They have now played at the finals nine times
* Saudi Arabia did not take part in World Cup qualifying until the late 1970s but reached the last 16 on their debut in 1994.
Previous meetings: The two teams have met in friendlies in Saudi Arabia four times with Poland winning all of them.
Following is a statbox on Poland at the World Cup.
FIFA Ranking: 26 (Oct 6)
Poland have appeared in eight World Cups, including the last one in Russia - but failed to qualify in 2010 and 2014. Their best performances were in 1974 and 1982 when they finished third. Poland have not got past the group stage since 1986 when they lost 4-0 to Brazil in the last 16.
How they qualified:
Poland were second in qualifying Group I behind England and secured their spot in Qatar with a 2-0 playoff win over Sweden. FIFA gave Poland a bye to the final playoff round after Russia were suspended from international soccer due to the invasion of Ukraine, which Moscow calls a 'special military operation'.
Following is a statbox on Saudi Arabia at the World Cup.
FIFA Ranking: 49 (Oct 6)
Saudi Arabia return for a second consecutive appearance at the World Cup and their sixth in total, still looking to match or surpass the achievements on their debut. In the United States in 1994, the Gulf state advanced to the last 16 having defeated Morocco and Belgium, the second win coming thanks to Saeed Al Owairan's slaloming individual goal.
How they qualified
Herve Renard's side topped Group B of the final round of Asia's preliminaries to book their spot at the World Cup, finishing one point clear of Japan. Four wins in their first four games - including a 1-0 victory over the Japanese - set the Saudis on the way to Qatar despite a dip in form in the latter stages of qualifying.