The chance to compete at the European Championships, in front of your own fans, doesn’t come around too often.
In fact for Poland, this is an exclusive occasion. Twenty-six Poles have been battling it out for a place in Franciszek Smuda’s final squad, but on Tuesday three were told they had missed the final cut.
And Smuda classed the decision to exclude Tomasz Jodlowiec, Kamil Glik and Michal Kucharczyk as ‘the worst moment for a manager’ in an interview with yahoo.co.uk
Franciszek Smuda is aiming for national glory
“The decision was incredibly hard for the team staff,” said Smuda.
“Having to tell three players they won’t continue training was horrible.”
Also missing is Lukasz Fabianski, who doctors decided was too risky to include due a shoulder injury.
However the co-hosts squad does include an array of exciting talent and ability, notably Dortmund’s Bundesliga-winning trio of Robert Lewandowski, Kuba Blaszczykowski and Lukasz Piszczek.
In Piszczek Poland have an absolute rock in defence, whilst the lightning pace of Blaszczykowski combined with Lewandowski’s finishing will no doubt give a headache to their Group A opponents.
“They are the backbone of the squad,” added Smuda.
Smuda, Poland manager since 2009, has included just one newcomer in his squad – Legia Warsaw’s 19-year-old rising star Rafal Wolski. An exciting prospect with skill in abundance – which can be below – Wolski will provide an extra dimension to their flair and attacking prowess.
After 1-0 friendly wins over Latvia and Slovakia – and with a seemingly pointless friendly against Andorra to come – Poland are in good form prior to their opener against Greece.
And Smuda is quietly confident of their Group A chances.
“Of course we have a chance to progress from the group and make it to the quarter finals. But the first game is the most important for us,” he said.
Goalkeepers: Wojciech Szczesny (Arsenal/ENG), Przemyslaw Tyton (PSV Eindhoven/NED), Grzegorz Sandomierski (Genk/BEL)
Defenders: Sebastian Boenisch (Werder Bremen/GER), Marcin Kaminski (Lech Poznan), Damien Perquis (Sochaux/FRA), Lukasz Piszczek (Borussia Dortmund/GER), Marcin Wasilewski (Anderlecht/BEL), Jakub Wawrzyniak (Legia Warsaw), Grzegorz Wojtkowiak (Lech Poznan)
Midfielders: Kuba Blaszczykowski (Borussia Dortmund/GER), Dariusz Dudka (Auxerre/FRA), Kamil Grosicki (Sivasspor/TUR), Adam Matuszczyk (Fortuna Duesseldorf/GER), Adrian Mierzejewski (Trabzonspor/TUR), Rafal Murawski (Lech Poznan), Ludovic Obraniak (Bordeaux/FRA), Eugen Polanski (Mainz/GER), Maciej Rybus (Terek Grozny/RUS), Rafal Wolski (Legia Warsaw)
Forwards: Pawel Brozek (Celtic/SCO), Robert Lewandowski (Borussia Dortmund/GER), Artur Sobiech (Hannover 96/GER)