Poland vs Colombia: 5 things to look forward to

Poland and Colombia unexpectedly need a win against the other to keep from leaving Russia early.

REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes

For Colombia and Poland, this is it.

Los Cafeteros’ 2-1 loss to Japan whilst playing with ten men and Poland’s sloppy defeat at the hands of Senegal by the same scoreline Tuesday have turned Group H upside down. 

These sides meet Sunday in Kazan essentially playing for their World Cup lives, instead of determining which would be kings of the group.

One would expect the intensity to be high and sense of urgency even greater, especially for Poland, which showed little of both in their opener.

For Colombia, James Rodriguez’s sore calf remains an issue and just how much he’ll play after not starting against Japan again remains uncertain.

Here are five things to keep in mind as you come to the game:

  1. 1 The Colombian concern lingers

    REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes

    Back-to-back draws leading up to the World Cup - with Rodriguez in the lineup - left some reason for concern among the Colombian fanbase. Tuesday's defeat only solidified that.

    Perhaps it was too much to think Colombia could recreate their success from 2014, especially since they did not look overly impressive during qualification where they drew their last four matches. 

    Manager Jose Pekerman truly believes his side can overcome their opening defeat and show they are much better than those recent matches have showed.

    But playing short-handed against Japan can't be an excuse, especially since there was no controversy involving the reason for Carlos Sanchez's red card for a handball in the box on three minutes. It was their own doing, and a mistake that contenders shouldn't make.

    Perhaps Tuesday was the wake-up call Pekerman's side needed. But nothing much of late has shown they are capable of an extended World Cup run. 

    However, there is no better time than the present to prove otherwise. 

  2. 2 Looking to buck history

    REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

    Poland are trying to avoid their first World Cup appearance in 12 years from following the same - or at least a similar - path their last two did.

    The Poles made consecutive World Cup trips in 2002 and 2006, and both featured losses in their first two matches. 

    They hope history won't repeat itself Sunday against Colombia, which has won three straight meetings between the sides in five overall matchups.

    There is some good news for the Poles, who at least scored against Senegal in their opener. In their first two of games of both the 2002 and '06 World Cups, Poland were outscored 9-0.

  3. 3 Is James capable of more?

    REUTERS/Darren Staples

    Whether Rodriguez starts against Poland might not be the major question surrounding the 2014 World Cup Golden Boot winner. Instead, the inquiry should be whether he is healthy enough to be a factor at any point in this tournament.

    One day after the Japan loss, Rodriguez was reportedly training with the reserves but the hope is that he will start in this most important match. Rodriguez did not show much after coming on and looked like a player that is not comfortable being on the pitch - at least at the moment.

    Which begs, should he be out there at all? Are the Colombians better served without Rodriguez?

    That might seem like absurd thinking, but how much can their ailing star really help at this point? 

    Rodriguez does not have a stellar supporting cast, but there seems to be enough talent, that when pooled together, can be effective. Especially against a team such as Poland, who might be amidst a crisis of confidence. 

  4. 4 Poland can use the help

    REUTERS/Hannah McKay

    To nobody's surprise, Poland defender Kamil Glik did not see action against Senegal as he recovers from a shoulder injury suffered while attempting an overhead kick earlier this month.

    The 30-year-old Monaco man is no doubt Poland's most physical defender, and they could have used him to clog up the middle against Senegal, who took advantage of some mental gaffes by the Polish backline to pull off the upset.

    He was originally slated to miss the entire tournament, but reports then surfaced that he would be ready for Poland's final group match against Japan on June. 

    Manager Adam Nawalka waited to rule out of Glik for Tuesday's match but, with his side facing a desperate situation this weekend, he might be inclined to consider using his best defender at some point against Colombia.

    Even if he's not reached 100% recovery.

  5. 5 Looking for a spark

    REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

    Looking for a spark or another means of motivation for Sunday, Poland may have indirectly received it from someone close to the team.

    The Poles have heard their share of criticism from all circles for Tuesday's loss, including the father of keeper Wojciech Szczęsny, who ripped into Robert Lewandowski and the rest of the squad.

    Speaking to a Polish television station, Maciej Szczesny voiced his displeasure with the team's performance, and even blasted his son's own effort for coming out of the goal to challenge Mbaye Niang en route to Senegal's second goal.

    Whilst the Poles took many hits for their porous showing, Szczesny's probably doesn't help his son, who still has reserve Lukasz Fabianski looking over his shoulder.

    Then again, the elder Szczesny isn't just a fan of the game. A former keeper in Poland and now a commentator, Szczesny made 140 appearances for Legia Warsaw and is the only player to win a Polish league championship with four different teams.

    A little bulletin board material, even from a supporter, can't hurt.

    How do you think this one will go? Let us know by commenting below.

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