Poland

Poland had a relatively successful Euro 2016 campaign in France, narrowly losing out to eventual champions Portugal on penalties at the quarter-final stage. It is expected that the squad that travels to Russia this summer will be largely unchanged from that Euro 2016 side, as the Poles will look to impress in their first World Cup finals appearance since 2006. The third place medal is their greatest ever finish at the World Cup, a position they achieved twice, both in 1974 and 1982. An ever- confident group of players, Poland will be looking to go far in the tournament this summer but will have their hands full securing progression from the group stages, having been drawn in a tough group with Columbia, Senegal and Japan.

Poland topped their qualifying group with an impressive eight wins from ten games. Strikers Robert Lewandowski and Jakub Blaszczykowski were in fine form as Poland totted up 28 goals during the campaign, however, their defence also conceded 14, showing signs that they are not as steady as coach Adam Nawalka would like. Their defensive frailties were significantly highlighted in their 4-0 thrashing by Denmark, and they will need to focus on strengthening this part of their game if they have to make it through to the knockout stages this summer.

Star Players

  • Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich) – One of the best strikers in the world, Lewandowski is already his country’s record goalscorer and had a fantastic qualifying campaign, scoring a European record 16 goals. Recently crowned champions of Germany once again, Bayern Munich have profited immensely from Lewandowski’s firepower over the last number of seasons. A strong and physical forward, Lewandowski has an acceleration that can catch opposition defences by surprise, and pinpoint finishing that you would do well to find in another footballer. At 29 years of age, this is perhaps Lewandowski’s last opportunity to play on the biggest stage in world football.
  • Lukasz Fabianski (Swansea City) – Although Fabianski’s club are struggling in the Premier League, hovering just above relegation, the Polish goalkeeper sits second in the list of league keepers with the most saves so far this season, with more than 110 saves to his name. Fabianski has proven time and again for his country that he can be counted on to make big saves when needed, however with Poland’s unsteady defence, it is likely that they will give up a lot of shooting chances to the opposition, and Fabianski may find himself under serious pressure in Russia.

Coach

Adam Nawalka – A former midfielder for Poland with 34 international caps, Nawalka, appointed head coach of his country in 2013, has gradually transformed Poland from a counter-attacking side into one that seeks to dominate possession and control the game. He needs to work on his team’s defence before the tournament commences this summer though, if they are to stand any chance of making it out of a tough group.

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