Waiting Game in Warsaw

  • By: Nick Hext
  • Last Updated: October 14 2012, 15:38 BST

England boss Roy Hodgson will have to be patient.

2pts Poland and England to be a draw at half-time at 21/20 (General).

2pts Both teams to score in Croatia v Wales at 11/8 (bet365, Boylesports, William Hill).


The World Cup qualifying action continues on Tuesday night with England switching their attention from the one-sided stroll against San Marino to a more testing encounter in Poland.

There wasn't too much to glean from Friday night's 5-0 win at Wembley and likewise Polish fans won't be putting too much stock in the 1-0 friendly victory over South Africa.

Both nations played those matches with this clash firmly in mind and a close encounter is on the cards.

England have Steven Gerrard and Glen Johnson back from suspension, Joleon Lescott, James Milner and Jermain Defoe return after missing out against San Marino to avoid a ban and Ashley Cole has rested his ankle injury.

Frank Lampard and Ryan Bertrand do miss out again but Roy Hodgson has plenty of options and he needs them to establish dominance in Group H.

England have started this qualification campaign with two 5-0 victories and a 1-1 draw against Ukraine and Poland's results to date have been a 2-0 win at home to Moldova and a 2-2 draw in Montenegro.

You would expect both nations to be fairly content with those openings but the result of this clash could put a whole new spin on the battle to reach Brazil 2014.

A win here could put England as many as five points clear in the standings with Ukraine hosting Montenegro in one of the night's two other Group H games - San Marino v Moldova having somewhat less of a say at the summit.

Taking a point would be far from a disastrous result for the Three Lions and Hodgson will be fully aware of that when his side take to the field.

Poland fans are not feeling too positive about their team's chances but they still have players who can test England - although being without captain Jakub Blaszczykowski is certainly not good news - and Robert Lewandowski is clearly the major threat.

I don't have enough faith in the Poles to back them for victory but there is a way to find a profit.

The 21/20 for the game to be level at half-time makes appeal to me and the comments of defender Marcin Wasilewski certainly point to Poland keeping it tight.

"We did as we should do against England next week - we did not lose a goal, which was fundamental for me, and had many counterattacks," he said after the 1-0 win over South Africa.

"The only problem was that we were not effective enough. Against England we could have less scoring situations and we need to know how to make the most of every opportunity."

Lewandowski gives them an edge in attack and he will need to be watched so expect both nations to start this clash fully on their guard.

Get on the draw at half-time as our best bet.

Wales are feeling better about life after the 2-1 win over Scotland on Friday night and now they face a tricky trip to Croatia with another positive result needed to keep their World Cup dream alive.

You certainly wouldn't expect them to do so - as odds of 14/1 with BetVictor for a Wales win shows - but they can cause Croatia a few problems with the in-form Gareth Bale.

The Spurs winger scored both of the goals against the Scots and provides the main attacking threat with Steve Morison not exactly full of goals as the central striker.

Croatia had to come from behind to win 2-1 in Macedonia on Friday night and that made it five out of seven games for them with both teams scoring.

Wales have ticked the box in that market for two games in a row and we are very happy with the 11/8 on offer for it to happen again in Osijek.

Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland are also in action.

You can get 10/1 for the Scots to win in Belgium and, although that price looks a little big, it still isn't something we can see happening giving the contrasting trajectories of the two nations in international football.

Belgium are packed full of Premier League stars and Scotland, despite being boosted by the return of Darren Fletcher and Steven Fletcher, just haven't looked in any kind of form during the qualification campaign.

Boss Craig Levein is under plenty of pressure and we expect that to continue after this game.

Northern Ireland are right up against it when they make the trip to Portugal and the 1/8 on offer with Ladbrokes and Sky Bet is the shortest price you can find for the home win.

Michael O'Neill's men have opened up in Group F with a 2-0 defeat in Russia and 1-1 draw with Luxembourg so what was at the outset considered an unlikely bid to reach Brazil is now more unlikely.

The performance against Russia shows this might not be too heavy a defeat but there still isn't any reason to expect anything other than a Portuguese victory.

Giovanni Trapattoni is another manager to find himself under pressure.

The Republic of Ireland chief saw his struggling side lose 6-1 to Germany on Friday night and now he has to raise them for a different kind of challenge in the Faroe Islands.

There won't be many people rushing to back the Republic to win at 2/7 especially when you look at the recent home record of the Faroe Islands.

A 2-0 victory over Estonia has been followed up with narrow 1-0 and 2-1 defeats to Italy and Sweden respectively.

Both Italy and Sweden have much more talent at their disposal than the Republic do at present so it's fair to say a real scrap looks on the cards.

The 14/5 for the Republic to win by one goal will have its supporters but it's best to stick with our two selections from earlier and avoid this match from a punting perspective.

  • Preview posted at 1540 BST on 14/10/2012.