Poland, Colombia, Senegal and Japan will do battle in possibly the toughest group in the tournament. However, only two can progress into the round of 16 but who will it be? It could really be anyone’s group this one. We take a look at Group H as part of our World Cup predictions.
There is a lot of expectation on Colombia this year after their quarter-final heroics four years ago, and they come into the tournament as favourites for the group; as well as one of the favourites for the best-looking shirt this year. They were the final team to progress automatically in the South America section and pipped both Peru and Chile by just one point.
They will be relying heavily on stars such as James Rodriquez and Falcao, who is firing again for Monaco, to be providing the power up front they will need; especially against Senegal and Japan. The challenge will come against Poland as they offer more competition than the other two but the tricky skills of Juan Cuadrado will help break down a solid defence.
This Polish side is one of the most attacking sides they have had for years. They averaged three goals a game in qualification and lost just one game as Denmark romped home 4-0. However, they finished five points clear of them scoring 28 goals in 10 games. There will be question marks over what keeper they go with either Wojciech Szczesny or Lukasz Fabianski as the manager has used both of them.
The attacking nous of Robert Lewandowski and Jakub Blaszczykowski will once again prove to be dangerous for the opposition in this group, especially Lewandowski who bagged 16 goals in qualifying and has stated he wants to leave Bayern Munich so will be out to impress at this World Cup. Like Colombia, they should beat Senegal and Japan but will find trouble against the South American side. It will be a close finish for them in 2nd.
Senegal could be one of the most watchable teams at the tournament. They got through qualification without losing a game and scored ten goals in just six games and only conceded three in the process. They are strong at the back and quick in the attack which makes for excellent viewing; especially in what could be an important game against Poland.
With the defensive strength of Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly and the attacking pace of Liverpool’s Sadio Mane, they could prove to be a problem for the two favourites in the group. Unfortunately, they may just miss out but as stated before you get the impression that 2nd place is a battle between Senegal and Poland.
Japan were made to work for their progression through to the World Cup and only finished top by one point. They ended just ahead of the lowest-ranked side to be playing in Russia this year, Saudi Arabia and lost to the UAE along the way. It could be a tough tournament for the Japanese, and they will have to pull something out of the bag.
They may not be the full whipping boys of the group as they have talent in the form Shinji Kagawa, Keisuke Honda and Shinji Okazaki but this side is known for its limitations going forward and will be relying on Maya Yoshida at the back to keep the likes of Mane, Lewandowski and Falcao at bay. It is the weakest side Japan have had for some time, and they are unlikely to recreate the heroics of 2002 and 2010 where the made the round of 16.