US, Polish strongmen square up
© Foto-net

On paper, this has the look of a balanced encounter between two sides that readily acknowledge their chief attributes are athleticism and solidity. But these teams' second Group D fixture at Montreal on 3 July could still offer entertaining fare, as both possess attacking firepower in abundance, especially on the counter-attack. The Poles are at an advantage courtesy of their opening-game victory, while the Americans have little margin for error left after being held to a draw by the South Koreans.

The game
United States - Poland, Montreal, 17:00 (local time)

The stakes
For the United States, nothing less than a win will do if they are to maintain a decent chance of progressing. Another draw would not put them out of the running mathematically, but with Brazil to play in their final group encounter, it would be far from ideal. The Poles, for their part, have more room for manoeuvre after their crucial win over the Auriverde, as a second win would secure them the luxury of early qualification. However, they will need to be very wary of the USA, who will be out to make amends after failing to do themselves justice in their opening game.

The players
Poland have no players on the treatment table, but will have to manage without left-winger Krzysztof Krol, who picked up a red card in the first match. But the Polish coach might well decide to tinker with his starting 11 and deploy a system designed to stymie the threat of the Americans, whose style of play is nothing like the Brazilians. Among the ranks of the Stars and Stripes, meanwhile, there are no suspensions or injuries to contend with.

The past
Poland could almost be considered the USA's "bogey team": in six meetings during final phases of FIFA competitions, the USA have never won. At U-20 level, the Poles have two victories under their belts (4-0 in 1981, 2-0 in 1983). But there is one encouraging "omen" for the CONCACAF representatives: it was the Poles' current coach, Michal Globisz, who was at the helm of the U-17 side in 1999 when the teams met in the FIFA U-17 World Championship. The result was a 1-1 draw that saw Poland eliminated.

The words
"We need to put our opening game victory over Brazil right out of our minds and concentrate solely on the Americans, who are very strong physically and play in an entirely different way to the Canarinhos. In fact, their style's quite similar to our own, so it's essential we use different tactics. What's more, we were underdogs going into the Brazil game, but we won't be seen that way any more." Michal Globisz (Poland coach).

"After their win over Brazil, Poland are ideally placed. They're a highly combative, physical side, but we're already over the disappointment of the first match and preparing ourselves mentally for this fight." Michael Bradley (United States midfielder).

"Poland's style of play is not that different from our own. It's more about physical strength and battling qualities, which should suit us better. I feel confident about this match and I'm sure we'll be ready." Brian Seitz (United States goalkeeper).