Poland vs. England: Crucial Players in World Cup Qualifier

Tyler ConwayFeatured ColumnistOctober 16, 2012

CHISINAU, MOLDOVA - SEPTEMBER 07: Steven Gerrard of England in action during the FIFA 2014 World Cup qualifier match between Moldova and England at Zimbru Stadium on September 7, 2012 in Chisinau, Moldova.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Michael Regan/Getty Images

When the English National team travels to Warsaw to face a hungry Poland team on Tuesday, how both sides' stars perform could ultimately be the difference between a trip to Brazil in 2014 and bitterly watching the World Cup from home.

England comes into this match fresh off a 5-0 drubbing of San Marino and Moldova and will look to continue its unbeaten record in the qualifying round. Poland, on the other hand, will come in desperate with just four points in the standings thus far. 

While the game's outcome means different things to both sides, England and Poland will each need scintillating performances from stars to come out victorious. 

With that in mind, here's a look at the players that will be most crucial in Tuesday's match. 

Steven Gerrard, England

Returning from suspension, the English side will need its captain to return to fine form on Tuesday. 

Gerrard will likely be taking the place of injured vice-captain Frank Lampard, who will sit out this match. That means Gerrard will need to take a far more active role in the attack for the squad to make headway against the defense. 

By now, we all know that Gerrard has the ability to soar in the slightly tweaked role for his club. Nonetheless, when you couple replacing Lampard in the attack and his suspension, Gerrard's role could be interesting.

If he returns at 100 percent of his skill level, England should be able to win this match. If Gerrard is rusty, however, things could get interesting.

Robert Lewandowski, Poland

Of the Polish players who could be an imposing threat for England to stop, Lewandowski has to be at the top of that list.

An absolute star with Borussia Dortmund, the 24-year-old striker has an ability to score from seemingly anywhere on the pitch. Lewandowski scored a whopping 30 combined goals last season with his club and has become a rather hot name in transfer rumors in the Premiership. 

Nonetheless, things have not been as easy for Lewandowski on the international level. He has just two goals in seven matches this season for Poland and has seemingly disappeared for large stretches.

That cannot happen on Tuesday, especially with captain Jakub Blaszczykowski and Wojciech Szczesny both being absent against England.  

For Poland to have a shot at an upset, it's likely that Lewandowski will have to find the back of the net at some point.

Wayne Rooney, England

After taking the armband for a suspended Gerrard and scoring two goals against San Marino and Moldova, Rooney will hope to continue his international hot streak against Poland.

With the Polish strikers undoubtedly looking to cut holes in the English defense, it's necessary that Rooney and his fellow attackers come out and get the first goal on Tuesday.

Playing before what should be a raucous road crowd, England will need to quiet the fans to stifle any of Poland's momentum and to (likely) calm down the nerves as well.

Even more important for Rooney is what he can take from this match back to Manchester United. The 26-year-old striker has had a bit of a tough go with his club team this season and if he can continue playing well for his country, the Red Devils will be rest assured that Rooney will return to form for them as well.