Entering their third successive European championship after hosting the tournament in 2012, Poland have reasons to be optimistic. Despite not being able to reach the knockout in their last two attempts Poland are aiming to make it third time lucky with a squad who are currently plying their trade in the best leagues around Europe, the difference now is that there are no more excuses no to progress.
How They Qualified: Poland actually lost fewer games than Group D winner Germany in qualifying by only losing 1 or their 10 qualifiers, albeit to Germany themselves in a 3-1 loss in Berlin. A 2-1 victory at home to Rep Ireland sealed they place in the group sages in France and avoided a tricky play-off. Robert Lewandowski top-scored with a record to behold by smashing in 13 goals.
Tournament History: Group Stage 2008, 2012.
Coach: Adam Nawalka. Zbigniew Boniek, Poland’s greatest player and president of the FA, appointed his former national team midfield colleague Adam Nawalka to the job in 2013 after Waldemar Fornalik’s failure in the 2014World Cup qualifying campaign. Nawalka has had a tough start to qualifying but was saved by the fans deciding not to blame him for some disappointing performances early in qualification and instead turning on key man Robert Lewandowski with boos and jeers. However, their fortunes upturned and Poland have a team of industry and attacking flair which should see them coast through to the knock-out stages.
Nickname: Biało-czerwoni (white and reds).
Key Man: Robert Lewandowski.
The best number 9 in the business. This season he dramatically scored 5 goals in 9 minutes against Wolfsburg. The Poland attack is obviously focused on the fox-in-the-box and why the hell not? On his day, as defenses around Europe have found out, he is simply unstoppable. He has the ability to turn a shot goalwards from any position in the box and has that striker’s instinct that some people are just born with.
One To Watch: Arek Milik.
The Ajax forward plays a supporting role to Lewandowski but the 22-year-old is not without his admirers. After playing under Poland boss Nawalka at Gornik Zabrze, his assistant manager at Ajax, no other than Dennis Bergkamp, compared the young man’s left foot to a ‘wand’.
June 12, 12 p.m. vs. Northern Ireland
June 16, 3 p.m. vs. Germany
June 21, 12 p.m. vs. Ukraine
Goalkeepers: Łukasz Fabiański (Swansea), Wojciech Szczęsny (Roma), Artur Boruc (Bournemouth).
Defenders: Thiago Cionek (Palermo), Kamil Glik (Torino), Artur Jędrzejczyk (Legia), Michał Pazdan (Legia), Łukasz Piszczek (Dortmund), Bartosz Salamon (Cagliari), Jakub Wawrzyniak (Lechia Gdańsk).
Midfielders: Jakub Błaszczykowski (Fiorentina), Kamil Grosicki (Rennes), Tomasz Jodłowiec (Legia), Bartosz Kapustka (Cracovia), Grzegorz Krychowiak (Sevilla), Karol Linetty (Lech Poznań), Krzysztof Mączyński (Wisła), Sławomir Peszko (Lechia Gdańsk), Filip Starzyński (Zagłębie Lubin), Piotr Zieliński (Empoli).
Forwards: Arkadiusz Milik (Ajax), Robert Lewandowski (Bayern), Mariusz Stępiński (Ruch Chorzów).