This is a special tournament for Poland since it’s held in their own country and it couldn’t have come at a better time for them since many of their players are starring for their respective teams in Germany, England and France, all playing at a high level. Franciszek Smuda plays with a strong defense, which is the foundation of the team, conceding only one goal in their last five international matches. Since hosts always have that extra edge and with Poland’s group not having any potentially stronger teams than them, it should be no surprise if Poland reaches the knockout stages. Without doubt, many of their key players are those that play in the Bundesliga.
ŁUKASZ PISZCZEK – DEFENDER – BORUSSIA DORTMUND – 26 YEARS OLD – 22 CAPS – 0 GOALS
Piszczek has been an integral part of Borussia Dortmund’s double-winning side in the last two years and one of the better right backs in Europe this season. He’s not just a simple right-back but also a considerable attacking threat due to his overlapping runs and constant bursts up the right flank. Signed by Hertha Berlin in 2004 due to his impressive performance in the U19 European Championships of that year, he was loaned straight back to Zagłębie Lubin for three years. Upon his return, Lukasz impressed for the Berliners for three seasons and ended up signing for Borussia Dortmund in 2010 for 5.5m€. His performances for Dortmund have attracted interest from some of the biggest clubs in Europe, such as Real Madrid, but the Pole seems set to stay at the Signal Iduna Park. Along with his club and country wing partner Jakub Błaszczykowski, we can expect Poland’s right side to be one of the main attacking weapons of them team.
SEBASTIAN BOENISCH – DEFENDER – WERDER BREMEN – 25 YEARS OLD – 5 CAPS – 0 GOALS
Boenisch was born in Poland yet moved to Germany when he was just 12 months old. He played for Germany at U19 and U21 level and he had no initial interest in playing for Poland. After a lack of chances for the first team, Boenisch agreed to play for Poland in 2010. However, that same year, he also suffered a terrible knee injury from which he has only just fully recovered, managing only a handful of appearances for Werder Bremen and their second team in just under two years. Boenisch can play at left or right full-back and, if needed, he can also cover in central defence due to his impressive height (6 ft 3”). It seems that despite his lack of match practice in recent years, he will be vying for a starting spot, with his versatility, height and projection being major factors in that decision.
EUGEN POLANSKI – MIDFIELDER – MAINZ 05 – 26 YEARS OLD – 6 CAPS – 0 GOALS
Polanski is a defensive midfielder that’s been an important part of Mainz’s rise in the Bundesliga under coach Thomas Tuchel. Polanski is yet another example of a young Polish kid moving to Germany at a young age. He started his football career at Borussia M’Gladbach. At the end of his contract at Borussia Park, he moved to Getafe in Spain, where he was an integral part of their survival campaign in La Liga. However, in that summer he signed for Mainz on loan and then permanently, where he’s been since 2009. Polanski is a certain starter for this summer’s championships. Like Boenisch, Polanski was an important player for the Germany U21 team, but upon Smuda’s call for Poland 12 months ago, Polanski agreed to play for Poland. Since Poland’s defensive approach is going to be the foundation of their game, they will be relying on Polanski to cut up play and bring all the opposition attacks to a premature end as the team’s midfield enforcer.
ADAM MATUSZCZYK – MIDFIELDER – FC KÖLN – 23 YEARS OLD – 17 CAPS – 1 GOAL
Adam Matuszczyk was born in Gliwice, Poland, but moved to Germany at a young age. He was spotted and signed by Köln at the age of 14 and progressed through their ranks all the way to the first team. Matuszczyk is a left-sided or defensive midfielder that, unlike some of his teammates, chose Poland ahead of Germany at youth level and made his debut for the senior team back in 2010. Since Obraniak and Polanski seem to have made the midfield positions theirs, Matuszczyk seems destined for the bench, although, when called up, he can bring stability and, given the chance, will surely give Franciszek Smuda a selection headache. In January 2012, he was loaned out to Fortuna Düsseldorf in the 2.Bundesliga, after a lack of first-team opportunities at Köln, and helped them get promoted. With Köln being relegated, Matuszczyk will probably feature a lot more in new coach Holger Stanislawski’s plans.
JAKUB BŁASZCZYKOWSKI – MIDFIELDER – BORUSSIA DORTMUND – 26 YEARS OLD – 50 CAPS – 8 GOALS
‘Kuba’ is coming off what’s probably his best season ever season for Borussia Dortmund, winning the double and being an integral part of their success. Mario Götze’s injury opened the doors of the starting spot for Kuba and he most definitely took advantage. Lining up for Jürgen Klopp on the right side of midfield, his understanding with his countryman Łukasz Piszczek and his incredible strength and stamina made Dortmund one of the most dangerous attacking teams in Europe. Despite the disappointing European campaign, Kuba’s domestic form was a joy to behold and has made him undroppable in Klopp’s starting lineup. Kuba signed for Dortmund in 2007 from Wisła Kraków for 3m € and won Dortmund Player of the Year in 2008 and Polish Player of the Year in 2008 and 2010. A firm fan favourite, Kuba will be one of Poland’s stars of the tournament as well as their captain, making that right wing his own and profiting from his telepathic understanding with Piszczek and Lewandowski.
ROBERT LEWANDOWSKI – STRIKER – BORUSSIA DORTMUND – 23 YEARS OLD – 40 CAPS – 13 GOALS
As Poland’s main attacking threat, Lewandowski is going to be the key player for Poland, hoping that the striker can transfer his Bundesliga form to the Euros. Lewandowski has many attacking qualities that he excels in. He’s a good header of the ball, mobile inside and outside the area and a clinical finisher, adapting especially well to playing as a lone striker in a 4-2-3-1 system. His 30 goals this season have been key to Dortmund’s Bundesliga and Pokal winning campaign, especially his goals against Bayern München, including the hattrick in the Pokal Final in Berlin in the thrilling and historic 5-2 victory. Lewandowski ousted Paraguayan striker Lucas Barrios in the starting lineup this year and has been a huge improvement since his 4.5m € transfer from Lech Poznań in the summer of 2010, winning Bundesliga Player of the Season 2011/2012. If Poland can take advantage of their host nation status, Lewandowski is set to be the star of the team, and his performances have already attracted some of Europe’s biggest clubs including Bayern München. If he excels this summer, there will surely be plenty more knocks on Michael Zorc’s door.
ARTUR SOBIECH – STRIKER – HANNOVER 96 – 21 YEARS OLD – 4 CAPS – 1 GOAL
Sobiech made his move from Polonia Warszawa to Hannover in the summer of 2011 and is one of just three strikers that Franciszek Smuda has named for his 23-man squad. Sobiech’s inclusion might come as a surprise, due to his underpar season at the AWD-Arena and the fact that many would have expected other men such as the experienced Ireneusz Jeleń of Lille or the impressive Maciej Jankowski of Ruch Chorzów to have made the cut ahead of him. However, Smuda is probably gambling on the raw talent that Mirko Slomka too saw last year. Despite his inexperience, Sobiech scored one goal in the Bundesliga this season and another two in the Europa League, and he will be looking to replicate this gunning with Paweł Brożek to be Lewandowski’s natural replacement and to put in a performance that warrants a starting place for H96 next season.