Poland were favourites to progress from Group H, although find themselves with one foot on the plane home after two losses against Senegal and Colombia respectively. Instead, it is Japan in the driving seat, knowing a draw will be enough to see them through to the second round for the third time. A win for the Japanese could even see them top the group; they were paying around +800 to do so before the World Cup started.
It’s hard to pinpoint where it has gone wrong for the Poles. Robert Lewandowski hasn’t managed a goal, and when he doesn’t score they are always going to be in trouble. Defensively they have simply not coped with the speed of their opposition, and Japan will also test their resolve.
The Europeans came into this group as the top seed and Japan, who are ranked more than fifty places below them in the FIFA standings, weren’t given a chance. Now that Poland have nothing to play for, there is perhaps more of a reason to think Japan will win. The sportsbooks agree: Japan have moved from +313 to +142 favourites, whereas Poland have shifted from -111 to +210. +210 is available for the draw.
Poland have a fantastic record against Asian nations, although Japan’s record against Europeans at the World Cup is also notable. Poland certainly don’t boast a lineup like France, Spain or Germany, which will give Japan plenty of hope.
We’re still not convinced that Japan are good enough to beat Poland, after drawing to Senegal and narrowly beating a Colombian side who played with ten men for 85 minutes. Poland though have been fairly awful, and so for that reason we’re going with a 1-1 draw in this match.