The Netherlands begin their EURO 2024 challenge against Poland at Hamburg’s Volksparkstadion this Sunday. While the Oranje will likely enter as favourites, Poland will offer up a hearty challenge to get Group D underway, as Austria play France the following evening.

Goalkeepers: Wojciech Szczesny (Juventus), Lukasz Skorupski (Bologna), Marcin Bulka (Nice)

Defenders: Bartosz Salamon (Lech Poznan), Pawel Dawidowicz (Hellas Verona), Sebastian Walukiewicz (Empoli), Jan Bednarek (Southampton), Jakub Kiwior (Arsenal), Tymoteusz Puchacz (Kaiserslautern), Bartosz Bereszynski (Empoli)

Midfielders: Jakub Piotrowski (Ludogorets Razgrad), Jakub Moder (Brighton & Hove Albion), Piotr Zielinski (Napoli), Kamil Grosicki (Pogon Szczecin), Taras Romanczuk (Jagiellonia Bialystok), Damian Szymanski (AEK Athens), Przemyslaw Frankowski (Lens), Sebastian Szymanski (Fenerbahce), Nicola Zalewski (Roma), Bartosz Slisz (Atlanta United), Michal Skoras (Club Brugge), Kacper Urbanski (Bologna)

Forwards: Karol Swiderski (Hellas Verona), Robert Lewandowski (Barcelona), Adam Buksa (Antalyaspor), Krzysztof Piatek (Istanbul Basaksehir)

Poland had a less than simple route to this summer’s tournament. The qualifying campaign started with a loss against the Czech Republic and then seemingly capitulated with defeat against Moldova – the lowest ranked side to ever beat Poland. Despite his Euro 2016 win with Portugal, then-manager Fernando Santos looked bereft, and after defeat to Albania, he was replaced with Michal Probierz.

The 51-year-old arrived to superglue the disheveled unit back together, and the bindings just held long enough as the Poles ended up traipsing through the play-offs and beating Wales on penalties. Of course, there seems to be little expectation to win the ‘Group of Death’, yet playing without the confines of delusion may be best for the White-Reds. As per the Guardian, Probierz has repeatedly said that there is no time for a revolution. His side will operate around a 3-5-2 system.

Within the squad, as media have theorised, the spine of the team will rely on Woijciech Szszeszny, Jakub Kiwior, Piotr Zielinski, and Robert Lewandowski. Szczesny was his country’s best player at the World Cup in Qatar, as well as the hero of the qualifying shootout. This will be his last tournament with the national team, so extra inspiration may be present to leave on a high.

Kiwior has played every Poland game since his debut in 2021 and the Arsenal man has emerged as the most important defender. The back three again boasts of Premier League experience with Jan Bednarek, as well as Serie A in Hellas Verona man Pawel Dawidowicz. On the flanks, Roma’s Nicola Zalewski looks to be one of his country’s biggest hopes for years to come, while Lens’ Przemyslaw Frankowski presents Ligue 1 and Champions League game time.

Piotr Zielinski’s lackluster domestic season with Napoli will hopefully be a thing of the past, as he’s complimented by the presence of Brighton’s Jakub Moder and Bartosz Slisz of MLS pedigree. Up top will ideally be legend Robert Lewandowski and his apprentice Karol Swiderski. However, with both picking up knocks in their final warm-up against Turkey, there’s a race against the clock to recover in time for this weekend.

The winner of Group D will face the second-best team from Group F, while the second-placed nation will face the second-best from Group E.

GBeNeFN | Max Bradfield

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