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England v Poland


Dobry wieczor. For those of you that don’t know that apparently means ‘good evening’ in Polish. I have checked more than one source, to verify the translation, so I hope I am not saying anything obscene. Czy zamkniety dach?

No, I haven’t switched allegiance. I am just fitting in with the English FA’s superb idea to throw our home advantage out of the window. Looking at the fixtures when Montenegro topped Group H, searching for a crumb of comfort, England supporters up and down the country thought ‘at least we finish the campaign with two home games’. It might be an obvious over-statement to refer to tonight’s game as an away game, but 18,000 official away tickets have been allocated to Polish supporters. This feels like a massive own goal.

We all know the situation. England must beat Poland, to pip Ukraine top-spot – the only position that guarantees qualification for Brazil 2014 – unless the unthinkable happens and Ukraine get any other result than a victory in San Marino. Poland can no longer qualify for the World Cup, but will no doubt be hoping to put on a show in front of a partisan home away following. On the other hand it is not exactly a secret that Poland and Ukraine do not get on and Poland have nothing to gain from a victory. As ever in such circumstances, Poland’s motivation is anyone’s guess.

The media is saturated, ever the optimists, with Brian Clough’s ‘Clown in gloves’, Polish goalkeeper, Jan Tomaszewski and his 1973 heroics in an identical situation. Stuff that. I would rather look back at Gary Lineker’s hat-trick to beat Poland in 1986. So here it is. The last time the sides met Adrian Chiles bored me to tears. My woeful sobs flooded the pitch. More Chiles, more sobs, it was a vicious circle. I still live blogged that fateful night, but could not cover the rearranged fixture. The game ended in a 1-1 draw. Wayne Rooney opened the scoring and Kamil Glik equalised mid-way through the second half.

England manager, Roy Hodgson, has admitted to being “a worrier” during the build up and confessed: “It won’t be my best night’s sleep. Things happen in games, you don’t always want to happen and that’s what makes you worry a bit.” Andros Townsend is a doubt for England after a knock sustained on his dazzling debut against Montenegro, which was capped with this strike. Ashley Cole is still out with his rib injury meaning Leighton Baines will continue at left-back. Kyle Walker misses out through suspension following a booking on Friday, and with Glen Johnson still out it is likely that Chris Smalling or Phil Jones will deputise. Waldemar Fornelik might be heading into his last game as coach of the Poland team, and states nothing but a win will do in any match. Poland will be without Lukasz Piszczek in their defence for the game.

Poland come into the match having lost only once in their last five matches, to Ukraine on Friday. Their two wins in those matches both came against San Marino. The draws were with Moldova and Montenegro. In sixteen previous meetings Poland have won once, there have been six draws and nine victories for England. The last time the sides played the game ended in a draw but before that six of the last seven meetings have resulted in England meetings.

If all goes well this will be my last live blog on the road to Brazil and England will have qualified for the 2014 World Cup.

At half-time check out rjb81media's half-time entertainment.


England: Hart; Smalling, Cahill, Jagielka, Baines; Gerrard, Carrick; Townsend, Rooney, Welbeck; Sturridge.

Poland: Szczęsny; Celeban, Jędrzejczyk, Glik, Wojtkowiak; Krychowiak, M Lewandowski Błaszczykowski, Mierzejewski, Sobota; R Lewandowski.