England took one step closer to reaching the 2014 World Cup finals with a convincing 4-1 win over Montenegro on Friday evening, but with just one match left to play in qualifying, Roy Hodgson’s men can’t afford to relax when they entertain Poland at Wembley on Tuesday, writes Tim Reynolds.
The Three Lions are currently one point clear of Ukraine at the top of Group H going into the final round of games so victory against the Poles would see England secure automatic qualification for next summer's showpiece in Brazil. But if England fail to beat Poland and Ukraine go on to win their final match against San Marino, a formality surely, Roy Hodgson’s men will have to battle through a two-legged play-off match to qualify.
The good news for England, based on results, is they have not lost a competitive match at Wembley since a 3-2 defeat by Croatia in November 2007 cost them a place at Euro 2008. Coral quote 2/9 for England to overcome Poland and 4/7 that they are leading at both half-time and full-time of the match.
Despite Poland having already failed to reach the World Cup finals, England can’t afford to be complacent. Waldemar Fornalik’s side held England to a 1-1 draw when the teams last met a year ago in Warsaw and with the Poles having nothing to play for except for pride, we can expect a very open game. It’s 9/1 for Tuesday's game to end 1-1, but a better option could be to back England to win 2-0 and 3-0 at 5/1 and 6/1 respectively.
On the scoring front, Dortmund striker Robert Lewandowski is the main danger man for Poland. He is 8/1 with Coral to open the scoring and 11/4 to score in 90 minutes. For England, Wayne Rooney and Daniel Sturridge should once again lead the England attack. The pair were both on the score-sheet against Montenegro and both home forwards are Evens to add to their tally against Poland.
One thing that we can guarantee, the atmosphere on Tuesday night is going to be electric, with Poland expected to bring at least 18,000 fans to the match. Will we see the Three Lions roar to success or will it be a repeat of 1973 when Poland came away from Wembley with a draw, which ultimately cost England a place in 1974 finals in Germany?