World Cup 2018: Poland vs Japan - preview, team news, prediction, head to head, & interesting stats
The last round of Group stage matches will see Japan facing off against a Polish side who are yet to earn a single point in this tournament.
Poland entered this tournament as the 8th ranked team in the World with predictions of topping a relatively weaker Group H consisting Senegal, Japan, and Colombia, with Colombia said to be there closest rivals for their chase for the top spot.
All the pre-tournament talk ended with the first match as young and vibrant Senegal side defeated Poland 2-1 after 2 horrendous mistake's leading to a goal made by the Polish players.
With a chance to bring back their faltering dreams of World Cup knockout stage alive, Poland next faced off against Colombia.
An utterly poor display by the Polish saw them beaten 3-0, with their talismanic striker Robert Lewandowski registering 0 goals in 2 World Cup matches, after scoring 16 goals in the World Cup Qualifiers.
With nothing but pride at stake Poland will face off against Japan as they search for their first victory of the World Cup.
They were touted as the favourites to be knocked out of group H first, but all the predictions changed after the Samurai Blue's defeated a 10-man Colombia side 2-1 courtesy of a 3rd minute Shinji Kagawa goal and a 73rd-minute winner from Yuya Osako.
The second match saw the never give up attitude of the Japanese team as they twice clawed back from a goal down in each half to finish the match 2-2 against an impressive Senegalese side.
Japan will be hoping to qualify as group toppers by recording victory over an under-performing Polish side.
Keisuke Honda will be pushing his stake for a place in the starting XI of the Japan side after impressing twice coming out as a substitute. Japanese coach Akira Nishino might be tempted to drop Goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima after his poor performance against Senegal.
With nothing to play for, Polish coach Adam Nawałka will be looking to make quite a lot of changes to his starting XI with Lukasz Fabianski expected to make his first start of this World Cup and Kamil Glik being restored in defence.
Possible line-ups for the teams
Japan predicted XI: Eiji Kawashima, Hiroki Sakai, Maya Yoshida, Gen Shoji, Yuto Nagatomo, Makoto Hasebe, Gaku Shibasaki, Genki Haraguchi, Shinji Kagawa, Takashi Inui, Yuya Osako
Poland predicted XI: Lukasz Fabianski, Lukas Piszczek, Kamil Glik, Jan Bednarek, Bartosz Bereszynski, Grzegorz Krychowiak, Jacek Goralski, Maciej Pybus, Piotr Zielinski, Robert Lewandowski, Kamil Grosicki
Head to head stats
This will be the 3rd meeting between Poland and Japan, with Japan winning both the matches. Incidentally this will be their first ever meeting in the World Cup, with the previous 2 coming in friendlies.
Japan has failed to score in 4 of the 5 previous World Cup matches against European teams with their last goal coming in a 3-1 victory over Denmark. Keisuke Honda has been involved in 7 of Japan's last 10 World Cup goals.
Poland is the first European team to be knocked out in this competition. They have not kept a clean sheet since 1986, after a 1-0 victory over Portugal
In their only previous meeting with an Asian team in the World Cup, Poland lost 2-0 against South Korea in 2002.
Senegal vs Japan, Group H:
Match Date: 28 June 2018, Thursday
Match Timing: 19:30 IST
Match Venue: Volgograd Arena, Volgograd - Russia