Lost Opportunities

Four years ago, with the weight of a nation firmly upon them, Poland failed to live up to expectations as co-hosts of Euro 2012.

They didn’t win a single match and the hangover from that failure saw them miss out on qualification for the World Cup in Brazil.
There was a sense that what could be a golden generation of Polish football was going to miss out.

In autumn 2013, Poland turned to Adam Nawalka for help. A coach with extensive experience in his homeland, he was not a household name, but he has turned things around for this team and made Poland into an efficient attacking force.

They are hard to beat – just one reverse in 10 games in qualifying came at the hands of world champions Germany – and can approach France 2016 with renewed hope.

Four years on from the burden that weighed them down in their own country, this Polish team might be ready to leave their mark on the tournament stage.

Familiar Foes

Facing Germany this summer in France will be a familiar feeling for Poland. After a routine success against minnows Gibraltar, Poland kick-started their Euro 2016 qualifying campaign by downing the world champions in Warsaw with goals from Arkadiusz Milik and Sebastian Mila.

Although they had to scrap for a point against Scotland in the same stadium three days later, the victory over Germany was one that gave Poland a head start, particularly as Joachim Low’s men struggled early on.

They were denied a vital win against Republic of Ireland in Dublin by a stoppage time equaliser but kept up their momentum by beating Georgia convincingly.

Germany avenged their earlier setback with a 3-1 win in Frankfurt last September to grab control of the group, but talisman Robert Lewandowski was the hero as Poland snatched a vital late draw against Scotland in Glasgow before they edged out the Irish in Warsaw to take second spot behind the Germans.

Prime Time

Bayern Munich striker Lewandowski is the heartbeat of this team, scoring 13 goals in 10 games during qualifying. At 27, the talented frontman is in the prime of his career and his quality will be expected to drive Poland forward at Euro 2016.

Alongside him, Ajax youngster Milik is well capable of making a big impression, his goal against Germany one of six he contributed in qualifying.

At the back, former Arsenal team-mates Lukasz Fabianski and Wojciech Szczesny continue to battle for the goalkeeping duties, with both featuring during qualifying.

Kamil Glik and Lukasz Szukala are in possession of the central defensive positions either side of Jakub Wawrzyniak and Lukasz Piszczek.

Grzegorz Krychowiak of Sevilla is a goal threat from midfield where he is well supported by France-based Kamil Grosicki and Maciej Rybus on the flanks.

Poland begin against Northern Ireland in Nice on June 12, an opener they are sure to relish. Germany will hold no secrets in the Stade de France four days later before a concluding game with Euro 2012 co-hosts Ukraine in Marseille on June 21.

As co-hosts, Poland and Ukraine managed only one win from six games between them four years ago. Both will want to improve on that record this summer and the Poles will hope to show they have progressed more in the intervening period.


Goalkeepers: Łukasz Fabiański (Swansea), Wojciech Szczęsny (Roma), Artur Boruc (Bournemouth)

Defenders: Thiago Cionek (Palermo), Kamil Glik (Torino), Artur Jędrzejczyk (Legia), Michał Pazdan (Legia), Łukasz Piszczek (Dortmund), Bartosz Salamon (Cagliari), Jakub Wawrzyniak (Lechia Gdańsk)

Midfielders: Jakub Błaszczykowski (Fiorentina), Kamil Grosicki (Rennes), Tomasz Jodłowiec (Legia), Bartosz Kapustka (Cracovia), Grzegorz Krychowiak (Sevilla), Karol Linetty (Lech Poznań), Krzysztof Mączyński (Wisła), Sławomir Peszko (Lechia Gdańsk), Filip Starzyński (Zagłębie Lubin), Piotr Zieliński (Empoli)

Forwards: Arkadiusz Milik (Ajax), Robert Lewandowski (Bayern), Mariusz Stępiński (Ruch Chorzów)

Team Profile

Number of European Championship Appearances 3
Best European Championship Performance Last-16 (1960)
Number of European Championship Titles 0
Qualifying Form Played: 10 Won: 6 Drawn: 3 Lost: 1
Coach Adam Nawalka – appointed October 2013
Trophies 0
Most Capped Player Jakub Blaszczykowski (current), Michal Zewlakow (all-time)
Key Player at Euro 2016 Robert Lewandowski