Poland v Wales: Lewandowski strike may not be enough for hosts

Wales begin a huge week with a Nations League trip to Poland and they can battle to a draw even if failing to keep out Robert Lewandowski, says Dave Tindall...

Poland looking to build after playoff win

This is Poland's third Nations League campaign and it begins with a home clash against Wales in Wroclaw.

In the inaugural edition, they were placed in a tough group alongside Portugal and Italy and failed to win a game, finishing bottom after drawing two and losing two.

The two defeats came at home, 2-3 against Portugal and 0-1 v Italy.

In the second season of UEFA's new competition, the Poles battled it out in a four-team group with Italy, the Netherlands and Bosnia & Herzegovina.

This time they registered two wins, a draw and three defeats, finishing the group in third spot.

At home, they lost 2-1 to the Netherlands, held Italy 0-0 and beat Bosnia & Herzegovina 3-0 thanks to a brace from Robert Lewandowski.

Since then, the Poles have finished runner-up in England's World Cup qualifying group with 20 points from 10 games. That took them into the playoffs where they had a walkover against Russia and then beat Sweden 2-0 in the final to secure their place in Qatar.

Poland face Argentina, Saudi Arabia and Mexico in the finals.

As for this Nations League, as well as Wales, they also face Belgium and the Netherlands in Group A4 and it looks a tough one.

Wales bidding to sharpen up before playoff showdown

Unlike Poland, Wales' World Cup fate is yet to be decided.

After two brilliant Gareth Bale strikes gave them a 2-1 victory over Austria in the semi-finals, Russia's invasion of Ukraine meant a delay in the second last-four showdown.

That Scotland v Ukraine match takes place on the same night as this game so Welsh fans will have one eye on events at Hampden.

Wales, perhaps crucially, have home advantage in the final after securing second spot in their World Cup qualifying group thanks to a gutsy 1-1 home draw with Begium back in November.

Robert Page's men had already secured a playoff spot - although not home advantage - thanks to a strong 2020 Nations League campaign so this is a tournament they've already done well in.

Perhaps that should be excelled in. Wales were put in a group with Finland, Republic of Ireland and Bulgaria and emerged with five wins and a draw, keeping five clean sheets in the process.

That promoted them to the top division of the Nations League, hence their tough group: Poland, the Netherlands and Belgium.

In the inaugural Nations League, Wales finished second in their three-team group, losing twice to Denmark but scoring home and away wins over Republic of Ireland.

Poles odds-on to start with win

The timing of this game clearly needs to be taken into account as it comes just four days before Wales' crunch World Cup playoff final against either Scotland or Ukraine on Sunday.

With Wales trying to reach the World Cup finals for the first time since 1958, that is clearly the priority but this is a chance to build some confidence and show they belong in the top tier of this competition.

Poland are 1.84 to start their Nations League campaign with a win while Wales are 5.1 and The Draw 3.65.

This is the pair's first meeting since Poland won a friendly 1-0 in 2009.

Wales won the first ever meeting in 1973 (2-0) but the Poles are unbeaten in seven head-to-heads since, winning each of the last four.

As for very latest form, Poland's last game was the 2-0 home win over Sweden in the playoffs while five days prior to that they played out a 1-1 friendly draw away to Scotland.

They also held England 1-1 at home in World Cup qualifying last September although Hungary turned them over on their home patch 2-1 back in November.

Wales are unbeaten in nine since losing to Denmark in last summer's Euros. They've won four and drawn five in that period.

Page's men are clearly a tough nut to crack and I think they'll have enough to make a mark.

Lewandowski strike may not be enough

Robert Lewandowski is still scoring at a bonkers rate, averaging over a goal per game for club and country over the last season.

The frightening numbers for the 33-year-old are 56 goals in 53 games while he scored nine times in World Cup qualifying.

The Bayern Munich striker has 75 goals in 129 starts for his country and the very latest count is three in his last two.

Lewandowski scored in five of his final seven games in Bayern's Bundesliga campaign.

The 5/6 (Sportsbook) for an anytime goal seems pretty fair but I'm going to use it as part of a Bet Builder.

Wales won't want to go into their playoff on the back of a defeat and I think they're good enough to sneak a draw.

So, back Lewandowski to score in a draw at around 9.2.

As for Bale, he missed Wales' training camp in the Algarve last week due to being on the bench for the Champions League final.

He's had just 20 minutes of action for Real Madrid since last playing for Wales at the end of March so maybe this will just be an opportunity to give him a brief run-out ahead of the big one on Sunday against Scotland or Ukraine.

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