Team Profile: Despite the nation’s rich footballing history and achievements (Olympic gold medallists in 1972, and third in the 1974 and 1982 World Cups), Poland has been a dormant force over the past two decades. This is set to change. Not only are Poland co-hosts, but they also boast a team full of exciting young talent, including highly rated Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczęsny and Borussia Dortmund trio Łukasz Piszczek, Jakub Błaszczykowski and Robert Lewandowski (who helped the German club lift the Bundesliga in the 2011-12 season). Coach Smuda has selected a crop of young players who are keen to make their mark on the international stage – and what better place to do so than in front of their home fans?
Coach: Franciszek Smuda
Having played in North America in the 1970s and with three Polish league titles under his belt, Poland’s manager, who has managed a total of 15 different clubs in his 28-year career as a manager, has plenty of experience to draw on. Smuda took over from Leo Beenhakker in late 2009 and, despite a lack of football ‘stars’, has managed to produce some respectable results, including a defeat of Argentina last year, albeit against a significantly reduced side lacking the likes of Messi.
Player to watch: Robert Lewandowski
The Polish supporters will be hoping 23-three-year-old Borussia Dortmund striker Lewandowski is in form and on target when their team kick off the tournament on June 8. Having scored 13 goals in 39 appearances for his country, the stats suggest he may well be on fire, although with just ten goals in the Bundesliga this season, his club form is slightly less impressive.
FIFA World Ranking: 65
UEFA Euro Ranking: 20
Number of Euro appearances: Five
Previous best: Group stages 2008
Qualification: Automatic (host nation)
Form (friendlies): LWDDDWDWWD
Fixtures: June 8 vs. Greece; June 12 vs. Russia; June 16 vs. Czech Republic