Your round up of every team playing in Russia 2018 continues with Group H. You can catch all the action live at Topgolf.
Poland reached the quarter-finals of Euro 2016, where they lost on penalties to eventual winners Portugal. Lewandowski and co. might not be a top team but they’re more than capable of getting to the same stage or even further.
Source: Robert Lewandowski 2011 by Roger Goraczniak is licensed by CC 3.0
Arsenal fans will be pleased to see former favourite Wojciech Szczesny in goal, who has retained No1 status despite spending the season bench-warming at Juventus. And let’s not forget on-loan West Brom midfielder Grzegorz Krychowiak in the holding role, with Hull’s Kamil Grosicki flying down the left wing.
90s kids will remember Senegal’s shock 2002 victory over France – and in a nostalgia-inducing twist, that side’s captain Aliou Cisse is coach of the current team. Cisse has several top-level players to call upon, his front three featuring Keita Balde, M’Baye Niang and Liverpool’s Sadio Mane.
Source: Ousmane Mane Mexico vs Senegal @ London 2012-9 by Nizam Uddinis licensed by CC 2.0
Cisse’s men navigated a tricky qualifying group that included Burkina Faso, South Africa and Cape Verde – and if their forward line is on top form, they’ll have high hopes of progressing in Russia.
For many, Colombia were the darlings of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, when a swashbuckling James Rodriguez led his team-mates on a dazzling run to the quarter final. This time around, they’ll have a rejuvenated Radamel Falcao to help James bear the attacking the load.
Source: Brazil and Colombia match at the FIFA World Cup 2014-07-04 by Danilo Borges is licensed by CC 3.0
Colombia did struggle in the qualifiers - but at the time, Falcao was not playing regularly and James couldn’t break through the myriad of world-class players at Real Madrid. With their two best attacking players now starring regularly at AS Monaco and Bayern Munich, and Davinson Sanchez now an established Premier League defender, the Colombians will believe they can go even further than last time out.
“I’m in shock and it’s very difficult for me to accept this decision,” Vahid Halilhodzic declared after being sacked by the Japanese FA, following a successful qualifying campaign. The Bosnian coach went on to blame the decision on “established players worried about their place in the squad.”
Source: FLIKR- tpower1978 – International Friendly Match by Tsutomu Takasu is licensed by CC 2.0
Historically, Japan have played an attractive passing game but under Halilhodzic, The Samurai Blue were a pragmatic outfit that sat deep and struck on the counter. As such, stars Keisuke Honda, Shinji Kagawa and Shinji Okazacki were dropped from the squad for failing to conform to the Halilhodzic style of play. The trio will hope to regain their places in Russia – but there’s an argument that dropping Halilhodzic for them represents style over substance.
GROUP H FIXTURES LIVE AT TOPGOLF
Colombia vs Japan 19/06 KO 1PM
Poland vs Senegal 19/06 4PM
Japan vs Senegal 24/06 4PM
Poland vs Colombia 24/06 7PM
Senegal vs Colombia 28/06 3PM