Euro 2012 focus on Poland: co-hosts look to Dortmund pair for inspiration
Poland kick off the tournament against Greece, before also facing Greece and Russia.
The Euro 2012 co-hosts will be the focus of the world during this tournament, but for off the field activities, rather than on field. The BBC Panorama show on racism in Poland and Ukraine has cast a dark cloud over the tournament, so it will be up to the Polish players to have fans singing for all the right reasons.
Without having to qualify, it is hard to judge where Poland are at, but their last three games has seen them keep three clean sheets, including one in a 0-0 draw with Portugal.
Key Player: Jakub Błaszczykowski
Being the home team at a major tournament, added pressure will be on the hosts to win games, especially against close rivals Russia and the Czech Republic, so Poland will need their captain Blaszczykowski to keep his players calm and motivated on the task ahead of them.
After a few seasons of injury problems, Blaszczykowski became an important part of Borussia Dortmund’s double winning team and Euro 2012 gives him a great chance to enhance his European reputation.
Rising Star: Robert Lewandowski
The Borrusia Dortmund striker was in lethal form during his double winning Bundesliga season, scoring 22 goals, the third highest in the division.
At just 23 years of age, Lewandoski could announce himself in international football and alert a host of Premier League clubs. As with all teams, goals equals success and Poland will need the 6ft striker to continue his goalscoring form.
Manager: Franciszek Smuda
It’s fair to say that 63-year-old Smuda has got around a bit during his 29 years in management. Before taking up the Poland job in 2009, Smuda had managed 19 different clubs, winning three Polish League titles in the process.
Smuda has been a firm favourite of the media – watch and learn Roy. He put his name forward for the job in 1997, 1999 and 2006 before he finally took the role in 2009. The last three results under Smuda suggest Poland will be tough to beat, but having not played any competitive football, it’s very hard to judge.
Being a host country, I think Poland will make it out of the group stage and with a bit of luck could even make it as far as the semi-finals. Look at Lewandowski as an outside bet for top-goalscorer.