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DARK HORSES

Poland’s hero is obvious but they are FAR more than a one-man team

With Robert Lewandowski leading the line for you, anything is possible

Oh check you out, backing Germany, Brazil or Spain to win the World Cup.

How original.

In the build-up to the World Cup we’re going to be taking a look at the dark horses.


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And once we’re done at the stables, we’re going to profile the teams with an outside chance of Doing a Madness™ in Russia.

First up, Poland.

Hogging the spotlight

Getty - Contributor
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Hogging the spotlight

The White and Reds may have flopped as co-hosts of 2012 and missed out on Brazil 2014, but they’re in decent shape heading into this summer’s tournament.

Fronted by one of the best strikers in the world, Adam Nawalka’s men will fancy their chances of escaping a competitive group and claiming some prize scalps in the knockout rounds.

Sitting sixth in the world, Poland are the highest ranked side in Group H which also features Colombia, Japan and Senegal.

Classic manager’s look this

EPA
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Classic manager’s look this

How will they line-up and are they worth watching?

Poland set out in a 3-4-3 formation in their last match, a friendly against South Korea in March.

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Borussia Dortmund stalwart Lukasz Piszczek will move from his favoured full-back role to a right-sided centre back position this summer, a la Kyle Walker.

Lokomotiv Moscow’s Maciej Rybus and Legia Warsaw man Artur Jedrezejczyk (both very easy to spell) will provide the width at wing-back.

Grzegorz Krychowiak, who had an underwhelming season at West Brom, will anchor the Polish midfielder.

The loan-signing was seen as coup when he signed from PSG, and will want have the chance to prove some doubters wrong on the biggest stage this summer.

He was a bit of a flop for the Baggies

Reuters
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He was a bit of a flop for the Baggies

Who should we be looking out for and have they got any familiar faces?

Robert Lewandowski is the standout name on the team-sheet, but neglect the others at your own risk.

Napoli’s Piotr Zielinski, reportedly a transfer target of Liverpool, is definitely one-to-watch this summer.

The 24-year-old is technically gifted and can operate as a central midfielder or winger.

Questionable trim on him though

AFP or licensors
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Questionable trim on him though

Kamil Glik is a bloody rock as well.

The Monaco centre-back and part time Bond villain has over 50 caps for Poland and will be the man tasked with marshalling the back three.

Glik bagged himself a goal against England in 2012. Yes, that is Phil Jagielka and Joleon Lescott

Times Newspapers Ltd
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Glik bagged himself a goal against England in 2012. Yes, that is Phil Jagielka and Joleon Lescott
We mentioned him in passing earlier but we just can’t ignore the massive goal-scoring elephant in the room any longer.

After making his debut for the national side back in 2008, Lewandowski boasts an impressive international record.


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His 52 goals (from 93 games) make him Poland’s all-time top scorer.

The Bayern Munich man also has a respectable 17 assists to his name, proving he is more than just a clinical finisher.

He only bites his OWN body parts… unlike Luis Suarez

Getty - Contributor
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He only bites his OWN body parts… unlike Luis Suarez

What is their recent tournament history and how did they qualify for Russia?

Considering the talent they’ve had at their disposal in recent years, Poland’s tournament history is a distinctly average read.

World Cup

2002/2006: Group stages.

2010/2014: Failed to qualify.

Euros

2008/2012: Group stages.

2016: Quarter-finals.

They were beat on penalties by eventual champions Portugal at Euro 2016

Getty Images - Getty
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They were beat on penalties by eventual champions Portugal at Euro 2016

Their most recent tournament showing at Euro 2016 will be a source of optimism for fans.

But for a Jakub Blaszczykowski missed penalty, Poland would have met Wales in the semi-finals.

They won eight, drew one and lost one in qualifying for Russia, scoring a respectable 28 goals from their ten games.

Three Lewandowski hat-tricks will do that…

Another for the collection

Getty - Contributor
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Another for the collection

Is 2018 suited to them?

Poland could well be England’s opponents in the round of 16.

While we’d like to think our boys would be favourites, there’s every chance Lewandowski and co could progress to the quarters.

Any other reasons to be optimistic?

They have Szczesny too, and he’s actually competent these days.

Arsenal era Szczesny is no more

Reuters
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Arsenal era Szczesny is no more

Are they worth a punt?

You can back Poland at 40/1 with SunBets to go onto win the whole thing this summer.

Stranger things have happened in football, right?

Greece in Euro 2004 *cough cough.*


Visit the rest of the stables


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