World Cup 2018: It's Lewandowski vs Mane As Poland Brace For Senegal Test

Updated: 18 June 2018 13:19 IST

Poland and Senegal will begin their campaigns in World Cup Group H.

World Cup 2018: It
It will be a Robert Lewandowski vs Sadio Mane face-off. © AFP

It will be a Robert Lewandowski vs Sadio Mane face-off when Poland take on Senegal in a mouth-watering FIFA World Cup 2018 clash at Spartak Stadium, Moscow, on Monday. Bayern Munich's Lewandowski finished the season as the Bundesliga's top scorer for the third time with 29 goals, netting 41 times in all competitions. Mane scored 10 Champions League goals -- including one in the final in Kiev -- forming a devastating strike force at Liverpool alongside Egypt's Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino of Brazil. Poland go into the World Cup 2018 Group H match at Spartak Stadium as favourites and are expected to emerge winners from a section also featuring Colombia and Japan.

Ranked eighth in the world, it is Poland's eighth appearance at the World Cup, with coach Adam Nawalka's side desperate to improve on the third-place finishes in 1974 and 1982.

Senegal are making a return to the World Cup after a gap of 16 years. The team qualified for quadrennial event after winning the Africa Group D title. Senegal previously, under the leadership of captain Aliou Cisse, reached quarter-finals of the tournament back in 2002 which also happens to be their only World Cup appearance.

Nicknamed the Teranga Lions, the team stands at the 28th spot in the FIFA rankings.

Senegal will hope to emulate the pioneering team of 2002 captained by Cisse, now the national coach.

Cisse's men opened that tournament with one of the great World Cup upsets, a 1-0 win over defending champions France, and went on to become one of only three African teams ever to reach the quarter-finals.

Cisse described it as "a great adventure" and wants his charges, ranked 27 in the world, to adopt the same fearless approach in Russia.

"I believe Sadio can be one of the stars of the tournament," said former Senegal player El Hadji Diouf, who played in Japan and South Korea in 2002, the only previous time the country has reached the World Cup.

Lewandowski admits he has a point to prove after a disappointing Euro 2016, when he scored only once as Poland exited at the quarter-finals stage.

The 29-year-old is finally reproducing his prolific club form at international level, setting a European qualification record with 16 goals in 10 matches to secure Poland's place in Russia.

Poland received a boost in the lead-up to the tournament when defender Kamil Glik was cleared to play after an unexpectedly quick recovery from a shoulder injury.

The centre-back is one of the team's leaders and his job will be to keep Mane quiet while remaining alert to other threats such as Monaco teammate Keita Balde.

"That team already created its bit of history, and now it's up to this one to create its own," he told FIFA.com.

"We'll have to go there without an insecurity complex, play our natural game and stick to our African identity, which defines our football."

(With AFP inputs)

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Topics : Poland Senegal Robert Lewandowski Sadio Mane Football 2018 FIFA World Cup Poland vs Senegal, Match 16
Highlights
  • It will be a Robert Lewandowski vs Sadio Mane face-off
  • Poland take on Senegal in a mouth-watering FIFA World Cup 2018 clash
  • Lewandowski finished the season as the Bundesliga's top scorer
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