Poland team profile
Previous best: Quarter-finals (2016)
Poland went out of the Euros without losing a game five years ago, although they did draw three of their five matches. An exit on penalties to Portugal cost them in the last eight, but that tournament was certainly progress. They hadn’t won a match at the Euros before arriving in France, following group stage exits in 2008 and 2012.
Poland on the front foot this summer
Poland have a reputation for being a solid but unspectacular side, something they earned in qualifying after recording seven shutouts in their first eight games. That saw them breeze to this tournament, but that wasn’t enough to keep Jerzy Brzeczek in a job.
Poland have made a real gear change and gone for Paulo Sousa, a Champions League-winning Portugal international who tried to replicate his own silky style in spells as manager of QPR, Swansea, Leicester and Fiorentina.
Sousa has moved Poland to a 3-4-1-2 system, immediately putting more focus on their attacking options. Robert Lewandowski needs to introduction, but Napoli forward Arkadiusz Milik is an able option alongside him. They will offer plenty of threat for defenders, especially with Piotr Zielinski scheming behind them.
It’s an impressive front three which is backed up by a reliable defence. The Poles also have brilliant goalkeeping options, with fantasy football hero Lukasz Fabianski a quality backup to Juventus man Wojciech Szczesny. If Sousa can keep up their high standards in defence this could be a great summer for Poland.
One to watch: Robert Lewandowski
Poland are far from a one-man team but there’s no one who can compete with Lewandowski here. The Bayern Munich forward can lay claim to being the best striker at this competition this summer, having completed another great season which saw him smash an almost 50-year-old Bundesliga scoring record.
However, that reputation does precede him on the international stage. The forward has complained in the past about how he is targeted for his national side, something which explains his return of two goals in 11 matches at major tournaments.
Rising star: Jakub Moder
Moder scored at Wembley in a defeat earlier this year, having just started to make his breakthrough at Brighton. The midfielder played in their 3-2 win over Man City late this term. He’s earned comparisons with Sergio Busquets but he’s got more about him going forward, so expect him to make a few appearances off the bench this summer.
Did you know…
Poland won 15 games at World Cups before managing their first ever victory at a European Championships. That good record brought them third-place finishes at the ’74 and ’82 tournaments. The Poles are yet to win or lose a knockout game at the Euros, drawing after 120 minutes in the last 16 and quarter-finals in 2016.
Top Team Goalscorer – Arkadiusz Milik at 9/1
Note: Milik has since been ruled out of Euro 2020 after withdrawing from the squad with a knee injury.
The focus on Lewandowski makes him a very short 4/7 favourite in this market. While his excellent season will tempt many into following that, it does leave an opening in a Poland side who are getting other attacking players around the Bayern Munich-man.
Milik has benefitted from Krzysztof Piatek’s injury and the forward will hope to carry his late season form into this clash. On loan at Marseille Milik scored nine times in 15 games including four strikes in the final two matches of the season. He’s capable enough to benefit from space created by teams focusing on his strike partner.
That makes 9/1 look like a big price for a forward in form to lead the way for a side who don’t tend to get many goals at major tournaments.
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