There is only one place you can start when talking about Poland’s chances in France – Robert Lewandowski. He is the most important player in this Polish side and he holds the key to allowing Poland to progress far in this tournament. Lewandowski has had one of the best seasons of his career, scoring 30 in 32 games for Bayern Munich and is the only reason Poland are potent in attack. He was their top goal scorer in qualifying, with 13 goals, and Poland are a team which perform well if Lewandowski is performing well.
Despite relying heavily on Lewandowski, they do have players who accompany and assist him well. Poland are not on everyone’s radar and can be seen as a dark horse in this tournament. They have capable players in all areas of the pitch and of course have their world class player up front. There is definitely a point to prove for the Polish, who have not won a single game at their last two European Championships; Nevertheless, there seems to be a good deal of optimism in Poland about what this Polish team is capable of and rightly so.
When Poland were drawn in Group C, a sigh of disappointment could be heard all around the Polish hills. They were put in the same group as Germany, again. They had finished second behind them in qualifying and playing the world champions three times in a short amount of weeks would be daunting for any team. However, there is some hope for Poland, who actually beat Germany once in the qualifying 2-0, neither goals coming from Lewandowski. As well as that, they only finished one point behind Germany in their group, another sign of what Poland can achieve when they are playing their best football. If Poland can return to that sort of quality, they may even have a chance of topping the group.
Poland have an accomplished core of players who will help Poland achieve at the Euros. Poland are strong at the back and have a good selection of goalkeepers, which is always important, with Artur Boruc, Wojciech Szczesny and Lukasz Fabianski, who have all had Premier League experience and are very good shot-stoppers.
Outfield, there are a few key men throughout that can harm the opposition. Other than Lewandowski, players like Borussia Dortmund defender Lukasz Piszczek and Sevilla’s Grzegorz Krychowiak in midfield will be expected to perform. Krychowiak has had a great season and is a solid player that will help the Polish team sure up their defence.
Poland also have a number of young talents, who will look to shine in this tournament. Arkadiusz Milik (22) at Ajax and Bartosz Kapustka (19) at Cracovia will both look to impress and I think will be given that opportunity by the players supporting them.
On merit, Poland are definitely the second best team in the group, however, it will be up to their key men especially Lewandowski to perform if they are going to progress far in this competition. I do not think they will have enough to get past Germany a second time but they are certainly favourites to be second in the group and qualify for the knockout stages of the tournament.
One place the team may be lacking is in the quality of manager. Adam Nawalka has only ever had experience of managing Polish domestic clubs and this will be his first international tournament as Poland did not qualify for the 2014 World Cup. It will be interesting to see how Nawalka sets up his team against the “lesser” teams in the group, Northern Ireland and Ukraine.
Nevertheless, if Lewandowski can be exploited as a target man and if he starts to score, Polish fans will have a right to be optimistic about their chances of success in France this summer.