After defeat to Scotland back in November, this is a must win game for Ireland if they want to enhance their chances of reaching the Euro 2016 finals but Poland will prove tough opposition for Martin O’Neill’s side.
The Boys in Green have seven points after four games, including a 1-1 draw with Germany but Poland beat the world champions 2-0 as they come into this one as early Group D leaders and are unbeaten so far in qualifying.
This is only Ireland’s third competitive meeting with Poland and the two previous ended just like recent friendlies in draws – a 0-0 in Dublin and 3-3 in Poznan in Euro 1992 qualifying.
However, times have changed and Ireland do not have the quality players now than we did back then and on paper when you look at the squad lists, Ireland do have some promising youngsters.
Th one to watch out for on Sunday will be Bournemouth’s Harry Arter who has been called up to the irish squad for the first time. The 25-year-old Londoner – who qualifies through the ‘granny rule’ is having a good season with the Cherries, has two goals in his last two games and he believes he is ready to take the next step.
It is unlikely Arter will start with Glenn Whelan and James McCarthy likely to be the two men in central midfield, but manager Martin O’Neill have some fitness doubts on the left hand side with James McClean and Stephen Ward had been receiving treatment for ankle injuries.
McClean could be available to start but if not it is likely Robbie Brady will start on the left-wing but if Ward is ruled out, Marc Wilson could move to left-back with Ciaran Clark partnering John O’Shea in the centre with Seamus Coleman a lock for right-back.
Captain Robbie Keane is likely to get the nod up front ahead of Shane long, but there is a big decision for O’Neill to make in-goal with Shay Given and David Forde battling it out to start at the Aviva Stadium.
If it was me I would pick Given – who has put on some good displays as Aston Villa’s FA Cup goalkeeper while Forde has been struggling with Millwall, who lie second from bottom in the Championship.
If you look at Poland’s squad, Robert Lewandowski is the name that jumps out straight away and the Bayern striker could be a decisive factor in this game but from an Ireland point of view, lets hope the defence came keep him quiet.
Apart from him, there is no one really else who you can say is a top quality player, other than Borussia Dortmund defender Łukasz Piszczek but he is out injured with an ankle problem.
I don’t know much about the Poland team and although they beat Germany back in October, the world champions have been in bit of a World Cup hangover. Nonetheless though, they deserve credit for that and Ireland will be in for a tough game.
This is going to be a closely fought group and with a loss to Scotland back in November, Ireland need to get back to winning ways. We cannot settle for a draw or it is going to be an ever harder test to reach the European Championships next summer.
If Poland win, we can forget about second but Ireland are still very capable of grabbing third and a play-off spot. There is still a lot of rebuilding work going on after the disaster that was Euro 2012 and World Cup qualifying but I have really seen any signs that things are dramatically improving.
I am hoping Ireland can get a result against Poland but I have a feeling that another draw is on the horizon. It wouldn’t be the worst thing but it will make Ireland’s tack of reaching the finals very tough.