Poland go into the finals after producing some of the most cohesive performances in years.
They have a young squad which has experience at the very highest level across the major divisions in Europe, and in Robert Lewandowski they have one of the continent's hottest properties leading the attack. Poland could well be the surprise package of the tournament.
FIFA Ranking: 65
Elo Ranking: 38
Best Performance at European Championships: 2008 (Group stage) Poland have only ever qualified for the European Championships once previously. In 2008 they were eliminated at the Group Stage after losing to Germany and Croatia and drawing 1-1 with Austria. How they qualified: As hosts.
The Boss: Franciszek Smuda The 63-year-old manager enjoyed his best spell of coaching at Lodz, where he won the Polish League title in 1996 and 1997, reaching the group stages of the Champions League in the process. A move to Wisla brought him another title in 1999. His career has seen him take on various other positions in within his home country, and a brief stint as coach of AC Omonia in Cyprus.
In 2009 he led Lech Poznan to the Polish Cup before taking on the job as manager of the national team in October of the same year. His reign began with a 1-0 defeat to Romania, but recent results show he is moulding a vibrant young team. Recent highlights have included the 2-1 win over Argentina in June of last year and a well-fought 2-2 draw with Germany.
One to watch: Robert Lewandowski (Borussia Dortmund) The 23-year-old striker has just concluded the season of his life at German champions, Borussia Dortmund, where he scored 22 goals in the Bundesliga and a hat-trick in the 5-2 win over Bayern Munich in the German Cup final. Strong, pacy and with quick feet, much of Poland’s hopes of progression will be held in his hands. How he fares will also be of interest to the scouts of the world’s biggest clubs, with Manchester United and Bayern Munich known to be interested in the striker. Dortmund have stated they have no intention of selling him. If he has a good tournament his value could double and that promise will be very hard to keep.
Likely line-up: Poland have been playing a counter-attacking 4-2-3-1 formation, relying on the pace and youth of their squad. The squad is amongst the youngest in the entire tournament, with just two of the provisional 26-man squad being over the age of 29.
Arsenal’s Wojciech Szczesny has been the preferred option in goals in recent matches, and is likely to start behind a four-man defence (r-l) of Dortmund’s Lukasz Piszczek, Tomasz Jodlowiec, French-born Damien Perquis and Jakub Wawrzniak. Dariusz Dudka will likely be tasked with protecting the defence alongside Eugen Polanski. Captain Jakub Blaszcykowski, Ludovic Obraniak and either Maciej Rybus or Adrian Mierzejewski are given a little more licence to play attacking roles, while Robert Lewandowski leads the line.
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