Can Senegal Shut Down Poland’s Robert Lewandowski?

Jun 19, 2018 5:45 AM EDT

Senegal vs. Poland, 11 a.m. ET Fox

  • Senegal +259
  • Poland +135
  • Draw +217

Bet to Watch:

Robert Lewandowski to score +125

In what is quite possibly the most competitive and evenly matched group on paper, picking a winner from any opening game is always going to be difficult.

Poland are the favorites to get the better of Senegal on Tuesday, but the disparity in outright prices between the sides is among the slimmest from week one in Russia.

Both sides certainly have attacking players of outstanding quality, with the Europeans boasting arguably the best number nine at the tournament in Robert Lewandowski, while their African counterparts have pretty devastating pace and power on the break.

The underdogs in Tuesday’s fixture will certainly be confident of posing real problems to what is now an unsettled Polish defense. Indeed, the injury to key man Kamil Glik just days before the finals has not only stripped Adam Nawalka’s side of its strongest centerback but may well enforce a change in tactic, too.

The coach had been preparing a back three formation for this summer but may now revert to a four, deciding between the youth and greater pace of Jan Bednarek and the experience of Thiago Cionek alongside Michal Pazdan. Either way, a Senegal attack line of Monaco’s Keita Balde, Rennes’ livewire Ismaila Sarr and star man Sadio Mane is among the fastest and most unpredictable in Russia.

Coach Aliou Cisse — who captained Senegal to the quarterfinals back in 2002 — has enviable and imposing options at the back, too, with Schalke-bound Salif Sane and Kara competing to start alongside the mountain that is Kalidou Koulibaly. The man they call K2 at Napoli is among the very best centerbacks in the tournament and will need to be at that very best to keep Lewandowski in check.

That’s easier said than done, however, and the marksman is one of very few strikers who seems to translate his remarkable goal-scoring record at club level to his national side.

Up to and including Poland’s quarterfinal exit to eventual champions Portugal at Euro 2016 the Bayern forward has scored in every one of the 13 matches in which he has played that his side have scored. His goal tally in that time amounts to 21 goals in 15 appearances and sets him apart as the best international striker on the planet at this time.

With that in mind, and despite Senegal undoubtedly carrying a threat of their own, it’s just too difficult to resist a price of +125 on the 29-year-old to score at any time in the match.

Follow Martin Laurence on Twitter
@martinlaurence7

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