Coming just a point behind Qualifying Group D winners, Germany, Poland impressed during qualifying.
But will their new found form be enough to get them through to the Round of 16 for the first time ever? We assess their chances in this profile of the Poland national team.
Route to Euro 2016
Poland finished as runners-up in Qualifying Group D, just one point behind Germany. Yet they beat the world champions 2-0 at home in Warsaw and scored more goals overall (33 to 24). Bayern Munich’s Lewandowski scored 13 and Ajax striker, Arek Milik, netted six.
One draw and a win over the Republic of Ireland and two draws with Scotland proved enough to secure Poland an automatic spot for Euro 2016. The second draw against Scotland came thanks to a dramatic equaliser in the 94th minute from Lewandowski.
Poland’s one loss was away to Germany, the score-line being 3-1.
Poland made the Euros for the first time in 2008, when a single point from a 1-1 draw against Austria saw them finish in last place in their group.
As co-hosts with Ukraine in Euro 2012, they managed two draws and as many points from matches with Greece and Russia, but still finished bottom of their group.
Adam Nawałka became head coach of Poland in 2013. He was given the position by Zbigniew Boniek, the man widely regarded as Poland’s greatest ever player and president of the Polish FA.
Nawałka got the job after Waldemar Fornalik failed to lead the team to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Having been manager at Wisła Krakówand GKS Katowice, Nawałka was boss of Górnik Zabrze right before taking the Poland job.
After a shaky start that began with a loss to Slovakia in a friendly, Nawałka began to mould a confident and hardworking team built around – and designed to serve – Lewandowski.
Most important player
According to Nawałka, Lewandowski is “the best striker in the world”, and many who have seen him in action for Bayern Munich would agree that he is absolutely world-class.
As he is so lethal in the 18-yard box, Bayern are essentially playing to Lewandowski’s strengths by working to get the ball into the penalty box from any angle. Poland use the same approach and are now reaping the benefits.
On his day (which is most of the time), Lewandowski is simply unstoppable.
21-year-old, Arek Milik, plays up front with Lewandowski and has hit the back of the net 10 times in 22 matches for his country. Currently playing his club football at Ajax, his manager Dennis Bergkamp says Milik’s left foot is “unique”.
Milik has superb finishing and dribbling skills and his powerful left foot frequently makes him lethal in front of goal.
Some critics decry his one-footedness, but that didn’t stop Maradona, and it doesn’t seem to be holding Milik back either.
It would be easy to dismiss Poland’s chances in Euro 2016 based on the notion that they have only one truly world-class player in Lewandowski, around whom the whole team is built.
However, the presence of the high-scoring Milik is also a point in Poland’s favour. And let’s not forget head coach, Nawałka, who has built a hardworking team that are a threat to anybody on their day, as they proved against Germany during the qualifiers.
Poland are second favourites to win their group, but at 9/2, we wouldn’t rule out the possibility. Their first test will come against minnows, Northern Ireland, where they’ll be hoping to notch up a winning start.
Whether they finish in first or second place, we’re pretty sure they will qualify for the knockout phase for the first time ever at Euro 2016.