Poland are delighted with the chances of progressing through the group stage, a feat not achieved since 1986, but they will need their talisman Robert Lewandowski to fire from all guns.
Results for Czeslaw Michniewicz’s side have been mixed lately, with the 6-1 defeat by Belgium in the Nations League demonstrating the team’s vulnerability to top-flight opponents.
However, Poland finished second in a hard-fought World Cup qualifying group that also included England and Hungary. They managed to give England a draw in Warsaw, showing they can compete with real tournament contenders.
Poland will also be accustomed to knockout football if they come out of the last 16, having shown when they clinched the playoffs 2-0 against Sweden to qualify for the World Cup.
All eyes will be on striker Lewandowski, who needs to lead from the front if Poland is to have any chance of progressing in Qatar. The 34-year-old Barcelona forward is still at the highest level, scoring a staggering 50 goals in 46 games in all competitions in his final year at Bayern Munich last season and starting his stint at Barca in a similarly productive manner.
What will worry Poland is the lack of clean sheets, which are crucial in tournament football. If Poland can tighten at the back they are in a good position with the strength they have in the front areas.
It looks like the key game for Poland comes against Mexico. A win over Saudi Arabia should be a formality and while Argentina may prove to be going too far, Mexico will also count on their chances of qualifying for the group.
The last three World Cups for Poland have each been fraught with disappointment, having been eliminated in the group stage, but exposure to knockout football and having one of the best strikers in the world are beneficial for the tournament.
Manager: Czeslaw Michniewicz
Star Player: Robert Lewandowski
One to watch: Piotr Zielinski
World Championships appeared in: 1938, 1974, 1978, 1982, 1986, 2002, 2006. 2018
Fixtures: November 22 – Mexico – Poland; November 26 – Poland – Saudi Arabia; November 30 – Poland – Argentina
Updated September 23, 2022 4:01 am