Two teams that fell short of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup will have their eyes focused on the future as Poland take on Scotland in an international friendly.
Both squads finished in fourth place in their respective groups during UEFA qualifying. Scotland could not keep up with Belgium or Croatia in Group A, while Poland were no match for England and Ukraine in Group H.
While neither side will be participating in the World Cup, there is plenty of potential on these rosters and both will want to keep getting better going forward.
To make things more interesting, they will be competing once again in qualifying for Euro 2016. The question in this match is which squad will be able to get off to a better start in 2014.
Who will win?
When: Wednesday, March 5
Where: National Stadium, Warsaw, Poland
Time (U.S.): 2:45 p.m. ET
Time (U.K.): 7:45 p.m. GMT
Live Stream (U.K. only): Vauxhall
Odds (via Oddschecker): Poland (15-13), Scotland (3-1), Draw (12-5)
Top Storyline: Can Poland Survive Without Robert Lewandowski?
Despite heading to Warsaw with the intention of playing in the friendly, Ryland James of AFP reports that a knee injury will keep Robert Lewandowski out of action:
The elite scorer will head back to Germany to visit with team doctors, leaving Poland without arguably their best player. The Borussia Dortmund player has been one of the top forwards in the world over the past couple of years, and he will be greatly missed in this matchup.
Marcin Robak and Arkadiusz Milik will become the best two options on the roster at forward, and neither of them have the experience of Lewandowski.
However, there is enough talent in the midfield to create opportunities and take advantage of Scotland mistakes to get them onto the scoresheet at least once.
Prediction: Poland 1, Scotland 0
While this is a friendly, both teams will be entering the match with full intention of coming away with a victory.
Poland coach Adam Nawalka explained that he will put out his best team, via Craig Swan of the Daily Record:
The experiments are over. ...The international matches last November and the January trip to the UAE gave me the chance to experiment. I checked other players and now I’ll use the best. I appreciate stability now and aspire to it.
I expect the proper mental attitude against Scotland and players to get out there with the full knowledge that they are trying for places in the qualifiers for Euro 2016.
Scotland will come out just as strong, but it will be tough to score in this battle. Poland have a solid defense and are even better on their home turf.
Whether Artur Boruc or Wojciech Szczesny start in net, they have the ability to completely shut down the opposing attack and maintain a clean sheet.
Even with a number of English Premier League veterans, this should remain a low-scoring contest with Poland coming away with the narrow win.
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