England v Poland - Five key battles

England face Poland tomorrow night in a vital World Cup qualifier which could determine whether Roy Hodgson’s side are forced to face the play-offs.

A win means England will be going to Brazil next summer and that’s much more favourable than having to play further matches which could lead to a slip up and Hodgson with a lot of egg on his face.

England played well against Montenegro to win 4-1 last Friday but Poland represent a bigger challenge and they will have double the amount of usual away support inside Wembley stadium, around 18,000 fans.

Poland are out of the running for qualification but they won’t make things easy. Here are the key match ups to keep an eye on.

Joe Hart v Artur Boruc

The battle between the goalkeepers is always important because they are key players for either side, who can keep their team in the game through heavy spells of pressure. Boruc has been in superb form for Southampton but Hart will take confidence from his performance against Montenegro.

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Gary Cahill v Robert Lewandowski

Lewandowski has already thrown down a marker ahead of the match, warning England not to take Poland lightly. He’s a vital player for the Poles in this game and he could drift onto Cahill’s side of the defence which means every part of the Chelsea defender’s game has to be spot on.

Phil Jones v Mateusz Klich

Jones is likely to star this game following Kyle Walker’s suspension. He should have enough quality to be able to keep Klich quiet throughout the 90 minutes but it’s a natural battle based on how Poland are likely to setup ahead of the match and Klich should be determined to put in a better performance following a disappointing display against Ukraine.

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Steven Gerrard v Mariusz Lewandowski

The other Lewandowski will sit in front of the back four offering protection to the centre backs. Gerrard is likely to make his usual runs forward, getting involved in the attacking play and rotating with Frank Lampard. If he can evade Lewandowski for much of this match, it could go a long way towards an England win.

Daniel Sturridge v Artur Jedrzejczyk

Jedrzejczyk will be matched up against Daniel Sturridge on the left side of Poland’s defence. Sturridge will play on the shoulder, looking to keep the Poland back four pinned back, creating space for England’s other attacking players to exploit and it will be fascinating to see who comes out on top.

What do you see as the key battle for this match?

image: © DrabikPany

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