Preview: Wales vs. Poland – prediction, team news, lineups


Sports Mole previews Tuesday’s Euro Champ Qualifying clash between Wales and Poland, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

With a spot in Euro 2024 Group D on the line, Wales and Poland square off at the Cardiff City Stadium on Tuesday, in the final of qualifying playoff Path A.

Rob Page‘s men made light work of semi-final foes Finland in a 4-1 crushing, while their visitors barely broke a sweat in their most recent tie either, smashing Estonia 5-1.

Match preview

© Reuters

The dream of three successive appearances at the European Championships remains very much alive for Wales, who needed just three minutes to draw first blood in their semi-final showdown with Finland through David Brooks before Neco Williams converted a well-worked free-kick routine.

Even though Teemu Pukki beat the offside trap and managed to cut the deficit in half just before the break, the former Norwich City striker’s effort was quickly rendered meaningless, as Brennan Johnson and Daniel James restored the Dragons’ two-goal advantage to put the result beyond any doubt.

Of course, playoff glory is nothing new for Wales, who qualified for the 2022 World Cup via such a method, and a daunting summer schedule with France, the Netherlands and Austria will be their prize if they can repeat the trick in front of the Cardiff crowd on Tuesday.

As well as being blessed with home advantage, Wales enter Tuesday’s tantalising final on a seven-match unbeaten run across all competitions and have scored in each of their last six contests, albeit while failing to keep a clean sheet in any of their last four either.

Page’s men may have suffered an embarrassing 4-2 loss to Armenia just nine months ago, but that defeat represents their only beating from their last 16 home matches in Euros qualifying, and not since a goalless draw with Israel in September 2015 have the hosts failed to score in front of their own fans in preliminary continental competition.

Poland coach Michal Probierz on March 21, 2024© Reuters

In what was a total mismatch on paper between Poland and Estonia, Michal Probierz‘s side failed to truly assert their dominance in the first half of the other Path A playoff semi-final, where only a Przemyslaw Frankowski effort separated the two teams going into the break.

However, after ex-Tottenham Hotspur defender Maksim Paskotsi received his marching orders in the 27th minute, Poland made full use of their extra man in the second 45, as Piotr Zielinski, Jakub Piotrowski and Sebastian Szymanski all found the mark alongside a Karol Mets own goal.

Martin Vetkal at least managed to nab a consolation for Estonia, albeit a completely inconsequential one as the Eagles surged into the final, where they will qualify for their fifth successive European Championships by breaking Wales hearts in Cardiff.

Present at every continental gathering since 2008, albeit while progressing beyond the group stage in just one of those four tournaments, Poland also arrive in Wales with a respectable unbeaten run to protect, having avoided defeat in their five games under Probierz so far.

Furthermore, since falling short in their inaugural clash with Wales back in 1973, Poland have not lost to the Dragons in their subsequent nine clashes in all tournaments – winning each of their last six from 2001 to 2022 – suggesting that Tuesday’s hosts have their work cut out for them.

Wales Euro Champ Qualifying form:

Wales form (all competitions):

Poland Euro Champ Qualifying form:

Poland form (all competitions):

Team News

 Aston Villa's Matty Cash celebrates after the match on December 9, 2023© Reuters

A near-perfect evening for Wales against Finland saw no players fall victim to injuries or suspension-incurring cards, although Joe Low, Ben Cabango and Wes Burns were all forced to withdraw from the squad before the four-goal romping.

Adam Davies, Dylan Levitt and Rubin Colwill did not make Page’s 23-man squad on Thursday, although those were seemingly tactical selections from the Dragons boss, who also avoided risking Aaron Ramsey amid the Cardiff City man’s perpetual fitness problems.

Page should see no reason to take a chance with the ex-Arsenal and Juventus man on Tuesday either, as all 11 starters from the crushing of Finland should be rewarded against the Poles, unless the manager feels that Daniel James has done enough to force his way in.

In contrast, Poland’s triumph over Estonia did not come without its sacrifices, as Frankowski was taken off at half time for Aston Villa’s Matty Cash, who lasted just 10 minutes himself before succumbing to a suspected hamstring issue.

Cash will play no part in Tuesday’s playoff final as a result, and while Frankowski’s problem is not believed to be anything more severe than a bruise, he was missing from team training on Saturday and therefore remains a major doubt for the trip to Cardiff at this juncture.

Fifty-four-cap defender Bartosz Bereszynski – a notable absentee from the squad to face Estonia – could be drafted back in as cover, but Probierz should otherwise see no need to shuffle the 3-5-2 pack.

Wales possible starting lineup:
Ward; Davies, Mepham, Rodon; Roberts, Ampadu, J. James, Williams; Brooks, Wilson; Johnson

Poland possible starting lineup:
Szczesny; Kiwior, Bednarek, Dawidowicz; Bereszynski, Zielinski, Slisz, Piotrowski, Zalewski; Swiderski, Lewandowski

SM words green background

We say: Wales 1-2 Poland

Wales would do well to attack Poland’s depleted right-hand side in Cardiff, where home advantage should certainly play its part for a Dragons side who are seldom outclassed in home Euros qualifiers.

However, Poland have had their hosts’ number in the 21st century, and the likes of Robert Lewandowski will need no second invitation to capitalise on Wales’ defensive shortcomings, so we can picture Tuesday’s final ending in heartache for the Dragons as Poland book their tickets to Germany.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.

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