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Euro 2012 Preview: 10 Things to Know About Poland

Peter WebsterContributor IIIMay 10, 2012

Euro 2012 Preview: 10 Things to Know About Poland

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    Poland are co-hosts for this years European Championships alongside neighbour Ukraine.

    With the tournament set to run from June 8 to July 1, Poland will be making their last minute preparations to try and make this competition the most successful Euro Cup in their history.

    Here is Euro 2012 Preview: 10 Things to Know About Poland.

Hosts

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    Ukraine are the co-hosts for this summer's Euro 2012 tournament alongside Poland.

    As co-hosts, Ukraine automatically qualified for the finals of the competition and were placed in group D.

    This is their first European Championship finals.

Star Players

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    Perhaps Poland's most clinical player at the moment is striker Robert Lewandowski of Borussia Dortmund. The 23-year-old striker has hit 22 goals in 34 games in the Bundesliga this season which has caused a number of European clubs to sit up and take notice.

    Captain Jakub Blaszczykowski is leader of Poland's national side, with Arsenal's Wojciech Szczesny and Lukasz Fabianski fighting it out for the No. 1 spot in goal.

Finals Opposition

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    Poland were drawn in group A of the tournament and will have to play Greece, Russia and the Czech Republic.

    Poland are ranked No. 65 in the world by FIFA, with Greece No. 14, Russia No. 11 and Czech Republic No. 26.

    That gives some indication of the task ahead of the co-hosts.

Management

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    Poland are managed by Franciszek Smuda—himself a former player who featured for the likes of Legia Warsaw, Los Angeles Aztecs and San Jose Earthquakes.

    Smuda has won three Polish league titles during his management career, as well as a Polish Cup. 

Odds of Winning

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    Poland are ranked as heavy outsiders to win the competition with odds of 50/1 given by English bookmakers William Hill.

    Spain remain firm favourites at 9/4 with Germany second at 3/1.

Pedigree

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    It's important to note that Poland have only ever qualified for the European Championships twice.

    Once was four years ago where they achieved a dismal 14th place finish, and the second time is this tournament where they have qualified as being co-hosts.

    Poland have never won a European Championship finals match.

Opening Game

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    A nation's opening game can set the tone for the rest of their tournament—good or bad.

    Poland will start their tournament facing Euro 2004 victors Greece—a team ranked by FIFA as No. 14 in the world.

    The game takes place on June 12 at the National Stadium in Warsaw.

Captain

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    Jakub Błaszczykowski is the Poland national team captain and can often be seen sporting the name Kuba on the back of his shirt.

    Kuba plies his trade domestically for Borussia Dortmund as a midfielder where he has won two Bundesliga titles and a German Supercup. He has won the Polish footballer of the year twice.

    Whilst not the oldest and wisest captain at the age of 26, Kuba has notched 49 caps for his country already and will hope that he can use the home nation advantage to amass as many more as possible.

Tournament Prediction

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    Unfortunately for Poland, I can't see them breaking their duck of not winning a game in the European Championships.

    Whilst their group draw hasn't been to unkind with their opposition, the co-hosts advantage won't be enough to bridge the gulf in class between rival nations.

    From their three games, I'm expecting Poland to bow out with a point.

Support

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    Poland fans will be everywhere—of that, there is no doubt.

    Gay Polish fans from the group Rainbow Stand 2012 have allegedly requested separate seating for homosexual supporters so that they are not subjected to violent attacks from other fans.

    Gdansk—one of the nation's venues—has rejected the request suggesting it would further stigmatize gays.

     

    On Twitter? Follow me @petercwebster where I post all my B/R content.

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