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Like Ireland, Poland are at a low ebb on the international stage. While the Boys in Green’s Euro 2012 adventure bordered on the farcical, there was huge disappointment in Poland that the national team could not emerge from a reasonable group on home soil.
A missed opportunity to put 10-man Greece to the sword coupled with a limp defeat to neighbours CzechRepublic put paid to any notions of glory that they might have had.
But Poland still have some decent players at their disposal despite recent disappointments and new head coach Waldemar Fornalik has named a strong squad to face Ireland on Wednesday…
Wojciech Szczesny’s attempt to go walkabout in his own box against Liverpool on Wednesday night was ill-advised and also betrayed his lack of experience.
But the occasional howler aside, the Arsenal keeper has been solid between the posts. The 22-year-old has been the best goalkeeper Arsene Wenger has had at Arsenal since Jens Lehmann, although that might not be a great compliment considering the standard of keepers the Gunners have had in the interim period.
But Szczesny has great potential and already has one of the best shot-to-saves ratios in the Premier League.
Robert Lewandowski has been linked with Arsenal and Manchester United in recent years and it is no surprise. The striker has been a key part of Borussia Dortmund’s recent success with his ability to hold up the ball and play in his team-mates. But he also knows how to find the net.
The 24-year-old has scored 15 goals in 50 internationals for Poland, including the opening goal of Euro 2012 as well as 42 Bundesliga goals in 85 games for Dortmund.
Lukasz Piszczek is an excellent attacking right back who is one of Dortmund’s Polish trio. The 27-year-old, who can also play right midfield if needed, has been in fine form this season, getting six assists in the Bundesliga.
So whoever starts on the left for Ireland must be wary of his marauding runs down the flanks.
The third member of Dortmund’s Polish Three is Poland captain Jakub Blaszczykowksi who became something of a national hero after scoring an equaliser against their bitter rivals Russia at the Euros.
Kuba was Poland’s player of the tournament and is a regular for his club side, scoring eight times and assisting five times in all competitions.
The right midfielder scored twice in Dortmund’s 3 – 0 win over Nurnberg last weekend.