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Poland vs Senegal: Roaring success on cards for Teranga Lions

Poland vs Senegal Match Preview and Predictions

Poland take on Senegal in their Group H opener at Spartak Stadium as they return to the World Cup finals after missing the last two editions.

They comfortably topped their qualifying group and are looking to make the knockout stages for the first time in 32 years.

Senegal missed three editions of the tournament before securing their return after reaching the quarter-finals in 2002.

Poland vs Senegal Betting Tips

The lowdown

Poland start the tournament as the world's eighth best team according to the FIFA rankings and have one of the most lethal strikers in Robert Lewandowski.

Adam Nawalka guided Poland to eight wins and a draw in topping Group E in qualifying, their only defeat being a 4-0 reverse in Denmark.

Senegal were the surprise package at the 2002 World Cup, memorably beating holders France on their way to the quarter-finals in their tournament debut. Despite being ranked 19 places below Poland, the first of our Poland vs Senegal betting tips is Senegal to win at 13/5.

The Lions of Teranga were unbeaten in topping their qualifying group, posting four wins and two draws, conceding just three goals in the process.

Included in their squad are a number of players with Premier League experience like Sadio Mane, who helped Liverpool reach the Champions League final. Monaco winger Keita Balde is also dangerous on the opposite left flank, while Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly is a rock at the back.

Interestingly, Senegal rank sixth of the 32 nations in expected goals with a 2.05 average per game since 2017, higher than Argentina, Portugal and England.

First goalscorer tips

Lewandowski looks an obvious choice at 14/5 to break the deadlock after topping the European qualifying scoring charts with 16 goals in 10 appearances and standing out as Poland's biggest goal threat.

However, we have nailed our colours to Senegal's mast and like the look of Mane to score first at 11/2. The Liverpool star only netted once in the final round of qualifying, but his expected goals numbers are up there with Senegal's best and 10 goals in the Champions League - the joint second highest of any player - tells us about his quality.

Anytime goalscorer tips

Balde enjoyed an excellent season in Ligue 1 where he scored eight goals for runners-up Monaco and with Mane forms a dangerous twin-pronged attack from the flanks.

The winger carries the fourth biggest goal threat for Senegal since the start of last year and his expected goals per 90 minutes are on a par with Moussa Sow, who is expected to lead the line in Russia.

If he can bring the quality finishing he showed with Monaco to the international stage, 14/5 to score anytime will look like a nice price.

Where the game will be won or lost

Senegal's defence will have to be on top of their game to keep Lewandowski at bay, but we don't expect the Africans to be focusing all of their energies on thwarting the Bayern Munich striker.

Aliou Cisse has plenty of options in attack too and with all but one of his 23-man squad plying their trade in Europe, they will not be daunted by their opposition.

Indeed, we expect the Teranga Lions to keep things tight in the first half and like the look of 7/5 on a goalless first half. Senegal's last four matches were 0-0 at the break and the graphic shows neither teams tend to allow many chances in the first 45 minutes.

With a cagey opening half expected, the last of our Poland vs Senegal predictions is for the first goal to be scored between 61-70 minutes at 11/1.

That's when Poland tend to get creative, although Senegal opened the scoring during that period in their last friendly against South Korea and there have been goals in that 10-minute spell in all three of their recent warm-up games in which goals were scored.

Team news

Poland have a worry over their best defender Kamil Glik after he suffered a shoulder injury in training. There have been reports that the Monaco centre-back will miss at least one game but Nawalka is optimistic his "tough guy" will be fit to face Senegal but if not "we have other solutions".

Traders' Tips - View from the trading floor

Robert Lewandowski vs Kalidou Koulibaly could be the key battle in this one and you can back them to cancel each other out as Poland have odds of 21/10 to draw with Senegal.

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More World Cup previews here

Stuart Walker
@BetStars in World Cup