Euro 2012 guide: Poland

ONE TO WATCH: Wojciech Szczesny
ONE TO WATCH: Wojciech Szczesny

FOR Poland, the expectation has always been to reach the quarter final in the Euros.

While the draw has been ‘kind’ to them it will only increase the pressure on the side that has an average age of 24. However, this Poland side seems to be (on paper at least) better than the one that went out of the group stage 4 years ago and, with a top class forward in Robert Lewandowski, Poland will be hoping that he can make the difference to get them into the knockout round.

Coach

Whilst his team might have not had the pressure of a qualifying campaign to go through in the run up to Euro 2012, Coach Francisek Smuda has had plenty of criticism after poor friendly results. Initially, when appointed, Smuda wanted to implement an attacking style of football but realised the defence just wasn’t good enough to play in this way. With this in mind Smuda has taken advantage of eligibility rules by persuading players from other countries, such as defender Damien Perquis to play for Poland. This has proved to be a controversial decision among the nation.

Key player

One of Europe’s in form strikers Robert Lewandowski will have a countries hopes resting on his shoulders. An all rounder, the Dortmund hitman is good with both his feet and head and also possess a decent amount of pace to trouble any defence. Playing in the same 4-2-3-1 formation as he does for his club, Poland will be hoping he shows the same devastating club form for country.

One to watch

Arsenal’s Wojciech Szczesny is the first choice goalkeeper despite being only 22. The stopper has made the number 1 spot, at club and country, his own in the last two seasons and his detractors will say he comes across as too arrogant at times, other will say it’s the kind of arrogance and self confidence a younger keeper needs playing in goal in a major tournament for a host nation.

Why they could have a good tournament...

The linkup between club team mates Lewandowski and captain Jakub ‘Kuba’ Blaszczykowski will be important relied upon to give Poland a threat. It’s a threat that could well work well given the less quality opposition they’ll have to face in their group stages. Poland’s definitely got enough about them to score goals and perhaps, feeling the home support, will make their dreams of reaching the quarter finals come true.

Why they could have a bad tournament...

As mentioned before the defence is the weakness of the team and that fact hasn’t been helped by defender Damien Perquis being injured in the second half of the season and facing a race to be fit in time for the finals. While home advantage can sometimes prove to be a huge boost to hosts like it was for South Korea at the 2002 World Cup, this young side may feel increased pressure and their confidence a little less should they not win the tournament opener against Greece.