FIFA 14: Simulating England vs. Poland World Cup Qualifier with Video Highlights
It's do or die for England.
Should Roy Hodgson's team fail to beat Poland on Oct. 15, the Three Lions will face a nervy play-off process to secure their presence at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Although the convincing 4-1 victory over Montenegro has raised spirits, that will all come crashing down again if a Wembley win doesn't follow.
The nerves have already started to kick in, so what better what to take your mind off the match than with a game of FIFA 14?
We've used EA Canada's latest footballing title to simulate the result, providing highlights and key moments in the process.
Did England automatically qualify for next summer's tournament? Read on to find out.
FIFA 14 Match Report
A pacey start to the match is barely 15 minutes old when Hodgson's team suffers a major blow. After chasing down a drilled pass out wide, Daniel Sturridge is caught with a strong challenge by Polish centre-back Artur Jedrzejczyk.
The Liverpool striker crosses the ball and hits the deck in agony. A quarter of an hour on the clock, and Jermain Defoe is forced off the bench, as Sturridge departs through injury.
Both teams fail to maintain possession in the centre, as passes continue to bounce back and forth with no real conviction.
Wayne Rooney chases Jedrzejczyk down in the middle and puts the Krasnodar defender on the floor with a hefty challenge. Yellow card for the Manchester United man.
The first half progresses evenly, but as the break looms, England are hit with a sucker blow.
A fine dart of movement and crisp pass from Mateusz Klich allows Grzegorz Krychowiak to burst into the box and coolly smash the ball beyond Joe Hart for the opener.
Wembley falls silent as the halftime whistle is blown.
England 0-1 Poland
England come out looking to rescue their automatic qualification hopes and nearly receive an immediate response.
Danny Welbeck sends the ball to Defoe, whose excellent header falls to Rooney on the edge of the box.
Quickly adjusting his feet, the headband-wearing hero whistles a fine volley just wide of Artur Boruc's goal.
Hodgson's team dominates from here and begins to pass the ball with confidence.
Neat exchanges between Rooney and Andros Townsend open space down the right as the influence of Poland's key men waivers.
Both Robert Lewandowski and Jakub Błaszczykowski struggle to gain momentum against an England defence that looks particularly powerful with Phil Jones coming in for Kyle Walker.
Jones begins a move down the right and passes the ball to Rooney, who has taken up position on the flank. His cross aims towards Welbeck but is nodded away from danger.
Steven Gerrard powers the ball back towards Welbeck, who times his run perfectly to escape the Polish defence.
He chests the ball and rifles a stunning volley beyond Boruc to level the score.
England 1-1 Poland
This is where it gets dramatic.
Lewandowski, who has been largely anonymous throughout, causes a nuisance of himself in the England box.
His powerful shot is blocked by Hart, but as England's defence fumble the ball away, Błaszczykowski's dinked effort is cleared off the line via a bicycle kick from Gary Cahill.
England pounce on the counter, but Poland's solid back four breaks up play before taking control of the ball once more.
Townsend has received little possession throughout the match but continues to create space with forward-thinking runs.
In the most controversial call of the match, the Tottenham winger latches onto a loose ball at Boruc's far post.
The Southampton goalkeeper struggles to make up ground after parrying play away, as Townsend's shot is drilled towards an empty net. Jakub Wawrzyniak dives towards Townsend's position and the ball cannons off his hand, stopping a certain goal.
England are not awarded a penalty.
With time running out, the Three Lions do their best to create one final chance.
James Milner latches onto possession around the halfway line and finds Gerrard in space. The England captain marauds forward and passes to Rooney on the edge of the box.
His ferocious shot is brilliantly saved by Boruc.
With it, England's chances of automatic qualification disappear. Boruc collects the ball from the resulting corner and punts up field in time for the final whistle.
Result: England 1-1 Poland
|England Starting XI:||Rating:||Poland Starting XI:||Rating:|
|Joe Hart||6.9||Artur Boruc||8.0 (MOTM)|
|Leighton Baines||6.8||Jakub Wawrzyniak||6.6|
|Phil Jagielka||6.6||Artur Jędrzejczyk||7.4|
|Gary Cahill||7.2||Bartosz Salamon||7.3|
|Phil Jones||7.5||Łukasz Piszczek||6.4|
|Frank Lampard||6.2||Grzegorz Krychowiak||6.0|
|Steven Gerrard||6.2||Eugen Polanski||7.4|
|Danny Welbeck||7.9||Waldemar Sobota||6.8|
|Andros Townsend||6.1||Jakub Błaszczykowski||6.0|
|Daniel Sturridge||N/A||Mateusz Klich||6.1|
|Wayne Rooney||6.5||Robert Lewandowski||6.0|
|Jermain Defoe||6.4||Adrian Mierzejewski||6.9|
|James Milner||6.0||Piotr Zieliński||6.1|
Ratings via FIFA 14.
Simply put, this result would not be good enough for England.
Roy Hodgson and his players must win to ensure that automatic spot, and should the real game finish 1-1, English football will once again find itself amidst a period of blame and desperation.
Here's an interesting thought to finish on: If the match goes similarly to FIFA 14's prediction, will Hodgson even have chance to explain himself before the Wembley door is slammed shut?
Tuesday Oct. 15 is a huge date for everyone involved.
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