World Cup Class of 2018: Poland


European qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup have begun

Population:  38.4 million
Capital:  Warsaw
Team Colors:  White and Red
How Qualified:  Won UEFA Group E
Nickname:  The Eagles
8th World Cup
Head Coach:  Adam Nawalka (POL)
Key Players:  Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich), Jakub Błaszczykowski (VfL Wolfsburg), Wojciech Szczęsny (Juventus)
Best Performance:  Third Place (1974, 1982)
Can they rekindle the glory days of the 1970s and 80s? Poland were once a powerhouse in World Soccer in during that time and earned a third place in both 1974 and 1982. But then followed a dry spell of 16 years without a major tournament before rejoining the party in 2002. This World Cup will be the first for Poland since 2006. 
Things are looking up for the Eagles in recent times. They made the quarterfinals of the Europeans Championship for the first time and led their World Cup Qualifying group on a canter. 
Of course, Poland has a certain Robert Lewandowski scoring goals. He score 16 of the team’s 28 goals in World Cup Qualifying. So what about beyond Lewandowski? They have experience in centerback Kamil Glik, defender Lukasz Piszczek, and midfielder Grzegorz Krychowiak. They also have players like Jakub Błaszczykowski, Piotr Zielinski, and Karol Linetty. 
However, they also had players who did not have good club seasons. Błaszczykowski was hurt most of the year at Wolfsburg. Wojciech Szczesny spent the season behind Gianluigi Buffon at Juventus. Lewandowski was not as prolific in the Champions League as he was in the Bundesliga. 
For Poland to go far in this World Cup, they need their players in the best form possible. The group is dangerous with Colombia, Senegal, and Japan; so everyone will need to be in form for the Eagles to fly. Otherwise, they will crash out as underachievers. 
June 19:  vs. Senegal in Moscow (Spartak) (10am CT on FOX/Telemundo)
June 24:  vs. Colombia in Kazan (1pm CT on FOX/Telemundo)
June 28:  vs. Japan in Volgograd (9am CT on FS1/NBC Universo)


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