Friday night’s game against San Marino was a no-win situation for England and Roy Hodgson.
The Three Lions came up against a team of part-time players, who were intent on just keeping the score line down.
England completed the task with the minimum fuss hammering the minnows 5-0.
Tonight’s encounter in Warsaw with Poland is a completely different kettle of fish.
England will come up against a Poland side containing players from some of Europe’s top leagues. Poland is very much an emerging power on the European football scene.
The current Poland squad is considered one of the best ever. The likes of Dortmund trio Lukasz Piszczek, Jakub Blaszczykowski and Robert Lewandowski are part of one of the most exciting club teams in European football.
Unfortunately for Poland Piszczek is unlikely to feature against England and Blaszczykowski will miss the game through injury. However, the England defence will still have to handle the talented Lewandowski.
The 24 year-old striker has been linked with a move to the Premier League with both Manchester United and Liverpool. His prolific form has made him one of the most in-demand strikers in European football.
This is the sort of game that is a real test for Roy Hodgson’s relatively new England regime. There is no doubt that this is now Hodgson’s team and they now have to prove that they have what it takes to make it to a major tournament.
In recent years qualifying for major tournaments hasn’t been a problem. The problem comes when England face any of the big nations in the knockout stages. Hopefully the younger players will gain valuable experience from games like this which will help them in the future in those tough tournament games.
Youngsters like Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Danny Welbeck are likely to feature in the clash in the Polish capital. The game will be hard a one and a good place for the youngsters to learn the international game.
England boss Roy Hodgson is set to make numerous changes to his starting line-up from the team that faced San Marino. Ashley Cole is likely to replace Leighton Baines at left-back and Glen Johnson is likely to replace Kyle Walker at right-back.
Joleon Lescott could replace Gary Cahill at the heart of the England defence. Steven Gerrard will return from suspension in place of Tom Cleverley in the centre of midfield.
Theo Walcott will miss the trip to Poland after sustaining an injury going in for a challenge with San Marino keeper Aldo Simoncini. The Arsenal winger is likely to be replaced by the more defensive James Milner.
England boss Roy Hodgson has a difficult decision to make up front. Manchester United striker Danny Welbeck scored a brace against San Marino, but could be left out in favour of the more experienced Jermain Defoe against the Poles.
Defoe has a good goal scoring record at international level and has experience of playing in these sorts of fixtures. Welbeck could be used as an impact substitute later on in the game, if Hodgson needs a different option.
A victory is vital for England. These are the sort of games that big European nations should be winning and if England still wants to be considered in that bracket then they need to do just that.
A draw in the Polish capital wouldn’t be terminal for the Three Lions. However, Roy Hodgson will be looking to take home maximum points from this difficult encounter and move one step closer to World Cup 2014.
Will England win in Poland?
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