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England V Poland A Game With Plenty Of World Cup History


When you think of a team that are rivals with England you will usually name Scotland, Germany or perhaps Argentina. However, if there is one team that England have locked horns with more than most over the years, especially in qualifiers for big tournaments, or in finals themselves, then it has been Poland.

The rivalry between the teams goes back many years and it is one that has tended to see England come out on top in the main, but with one or two notable exceptions. With both teams drawn into Group I of European Qualifying for the World Cup in 2022, the two teams will meet once again this week.

England have made a solid start to their campaign picking up two wins in their first two games, a predictable 5-0 cruise over San Marino, followed by a 2-0 win away to Albania. Poland started with a battling 3-3 draw away to Hungary and then followed that up with a solid 3-0 home win over Andorra.

However, Wednesday’s clash could go a very long way towards deciding who is going to qualify from the group as its winners.

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We are now going to focus on some of the most historic and dramatic clashes between these two teams in the World Cup, both in the qualifiers and the finals over the years, before we then turn our attention to the big game on Wednesday evening at Wembley.

England V Poland – A Historic Perspective

The two teams have met 18 times over the years, although just two of those games have been classed as friendly matches. Apart from one game at the 1986 World Cup Finals, the remaining matches have all been part of European Championship or World Cup qualification schedules.

England have a fantastic record in these games, winning 11 of the 18 matches and drawing seven. Poland have managed just one win over England in their history (and that came way back in 1973).

The Three Lions recent record in matches is even better with seven of the last nine being wins for England, while Poland have managed just two draws, both at home, in that time. Poland have only ever managed to pick up one draw at Wembley, although that was a game that lives long in the minds of England fans as we will explain below.

England v Poland – The Crunch Clashes

17th October 1973 – England 1-1 Poland

In qualifying for the 1974 World Cup Finals, England headed into this game needing to win in order to reach the finals. Poland only needed a draw thanks a 2-0 win over England in Poland a few months earlier. Jan Tomaszewksi was the Poles hero, as the unorthodox keeper kept England at bay with a string of saves to earn the draw that sent the Poles through and which meant England missed out on the World Cup Finals for the first time in their history.

3rd June 1986 – England 3-0 Poland

After losing their opening game of the 1986 World Cup to Portugal, then drawing 0-0 with Morocco, England headed into their final group game with Poland knowing only a win would give them a spot in the second round. Bobby Robson changed his team for this game bringing in the likes of Peter Beardsley, Peter Reid and Trevor Steven for the match and it paid dividends as the three played a key role in England going 3-0 up in the first half, Gary Lineker scoring a hat-trick which put England into the next phase.

31st May 1997 – Poland 0-2 England

After losing to Italy at Wembley, England looked second best behind the Italians in their World Cup qualification group and having beat the Poles at home 2-1, England travelled to Chorzow knowing a win would only be good enough. Alan Shearer scored early on and Teddy Sheringham added a second in injury time to give England a vital win, which along with a 0-0 draw against Italy in their final game, saw them qualify for the finals top of the group by a single point.

England v Poland Preview

This game had originally been billed as a showdown between two goalscoring captains. Harry Kane facing off against Robert Lewandowski. But, plans for that were scuppered when Lewandowski picked up an injury in the game against Andorra which means he will likely miss out against England.

That means Poland lose their most capped player, their countries highest ever goalscorer and the teams talismanic captain. That is a massive blow for a team that do not have an abundance of World Class talent in other positions.

Poland’s misfortune is of course, good news for England and Gareth Southgate who will know that Lewandowski’s replacement is not as likely to be anywhere near as dangerous. Even so, England will still need to be very wary of the Poles in this game.

I can’t see Gareth Southgate changing things too much from the team that won in Albania. Southgate picked very much a second-string XI for the home game with San Marino but the team looked more familiar for the trip to Tirana and I can’t see him changing too many players over after that 2-0 win.

That means that Mason Mount will likely continue in midfield with Phil Foden ahead of Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips with Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling the more advanced attackers.

Our Tips For England v Poland

There is no question that having Robert Lewandowski out for this game is a massive blow to Polish hopes and as such, that radically redefines how I see this game going. With Lewandowski, I felt Poland would score but England would land a narrow win.

Without him, I think England win the game relatively comfortably and I don’t feel that the Polish team will find the net.

You can back England to win at 2/7 with bet365 which isn’t the best value, but a 2-0 win is a 5/1 shot in the correct score market, while you can take Harry Kane to score at any time in the game, plus England to win 2-0 as an Anytime Scorecast at 7/1.