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Euro 2012 Team Preview: Poland
Ranked 65th in FIFA’s world rankings, Poland is the lowest ranked team taking part in Euro 2012. They will be making only their second appearance in the tournament this summer too, the first time was in 2008, when the team wasn’t able to make it past the group stages. With home advantage on their side, the Poles will be looking to avoid a 2008-repeat come summer.
With rising stars coming to the fore, Poland has what it takes to make an indelible mark on the face of European Football. They should be able to make it past the group stages in a group that isn’t rated highly compared to the other three groups of the tournament. They seem to be quarter-finals-bound that means, but a semi-finals appearance is a long shot perhaps needs a couple more years of honing.
Borussia Dortmund won a domestic double thanks to the heroics of three Poles: top goalscorer Robert Lewandowski, top assists-man Jakub Blaszczykowski, and bombing defender Lukasz Piszczek. All three will definitely have a role to play in the team come summer, with Lewandowski expected to lead the Polish attack.
Lewandowski isn’t only lethal in club football; he is also a renowned marksman in the international arena. Scoring 13 goals in 39 appearances means that the 23-year old forward scores a goal every three games. And with Blaszczykowski and Piszczek in the team as well, expect the trio to play with familiarity and cohesiveness that should leave opposing defenses flat footed.
As co-hosts for Euro 2012, Poland never had to go through qualification. While this may sound like a benefit, there are also major disadvantages to this that could eventually affect the team’s performance in the tournament. The lack of competitive fixtures could after all catch the Poles by surprise, the same way a blunt axe would react when drived at hard wood.
They were able to play with big teams last year nevertheless, winning a match against the likes of Argentina – an experimental Argentina team that is – and losing to the likes of Germany, Italy, and France.
Poland boss Franciszek Smuda likes to play with the ideal. Once he tried playing a 4-3-3 that resembled Spain’s style: short passes, high pressing, and possession football. Tragically, Smuda played this style against Spain, ending in a 6-0 defeat.
Fortuantely for Polish fans, Smuda made that mistake early as opposed to committing it in the tournament proper. Tactical changes are a must now if Smuda wants to succeed, and with Lewandowski in his side, he could turn to fast, counterattacking football with his prized forward as the designated hit-man of every created chance.
Poland will feel fortunate to be in a somewhat kind group. Fancy them to finish as runners-up to Czech Republic (Poland is at 5/6 to make it past the group stages), with the Russians and the Greeks having failed to impress as of late. Expect the quarter-finals to get tough for the Poles, so a semi-finals appearance is unlikely for them. They are at 13/8 to get eliminated during the quarter-finals.
Bet365’s Euro 2012 Group Forecast tips a 1st – Czech Republic, 2nd – Poland at 12/1. That’s a punt worth the risk.
All odds are from Bet365.com (£200 FREE BET!).