Saudi Arabia’s 2-1 victory over Argentina on Tuesday was the biggest shock in World Cup history, according to Nielsen Gracenote. The data company said the 51st-ranked Saudis’ chances of winning the game was just 8.7%
Saudi Arabia did not take part in World Cup qualifying until the late 1970s but reached the last 16 on their debut in 1994. The two teams have met in friendlies in Saudi Arabia four times with Poland winning all of them.
Contrasting moods will accompany Poland and Saudi Arabia into their World Cup Group C clash on Saturday, with all the pressure on the Poles after they started with a disappointing goalless draw while the Saudis shocked Argentina.
Saudi Arabia stunned the world by beating the Argentines 2-1 on Tuesday and could upset the odds again against a Poland side who fluffed their lines versus Mexico when Robert Lewandowski, who has never scored at a World Cup, missed a penalty.
The Saudis, who are the second-lowest ranked team in the tournament only above Ghana, will eye their second-ever round of 16 after they were knocked out by Sweden back in 1994.
For Poland a win is vital to their hopes of reaching the last 16 for the first time since 1986.
“This result does not take away the chances of advancing further neither from us nor the Mexicans,” Poland coach Czeslaw Michniewicz said after Tuesday’s stalemate.
However, some of Poland players appear to have already given up on their last group match against Argentina, putting added pressure on the need to beat the Saudis.
“We’re adding zero points to our account ahead of the third match, which will definitely be lost,” goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny had said on the eve of the Mexico game.
By contrast, the Saudis got a massive boost from their first ever opening World Cup victory and the surprise Group C leaders will approach the Poland game full of optimism.
Both sides had similarly low possession and only two shots on target in their opening games but for Saudi Arabia that was enough to cause one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history.
Poland, who frustrated their fans and Lewandowski with a defensive approach, must be on the front foot or they could be heading out of the tournament.