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Team-by-team guide: 2022 Poland World Cup preview

To prepare you for the tournament, The18 has launched team-by-team previews for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. Here’s the Poland World Cup preview, who'll play in Group C against Argentina, Mexico and Saudi Arabia.

Poland World Cup Preview 2022

World Cup Appearances: 9th

Best Finish: 3rd (1974, 1982)

How they got here: Poland finished second in UEFA qualifying Group I behind England and had to go the playoff route. In the playoffs, Poland got a free win against Russia after the invasion of Ukraine. Instead of having to play two playoff games to qualify, Poland only played one vs. Sweden, which the Poles won 2-0.

Coach: Czeslaw Michniewicz (Polish)

Strongest XI: (3-5-2)* Wojciech Szczesny; Jakub Kiwior, Kamil Glik, Jan Bednarek; Nicola Zalewski, Grzegorz Krychowiak, Piotr Zielinski, Syzmon Zurkowski, Matty Cash; Robert Lewandowski, Karol Swiderski

*Michniewicz loves to switch up the formations. It appears he has used a 3-5-2, 3-4-3, 5-3-2, 4-5-1 and a 4-3-3 during his games in charge. This team is flexible and offers plenty of different looks.

What’s to like: Poland has some plot armor coming into the World Cup with Qatar set to be Robert Lewandowski’s last. Lewandowski is in fine, dare I say, beautiful form for Barcelona. He’s been in a bit of a goal-scoring lull for Poland, and this can only mean the beast is ready to wake up.

One more thing to enjoy is some Major League Soccer representation, baby! Charlotte FC’s Karol Swiderski scored five goals during Poland’s World Cup qualifying campaign, which was tied for second only behind Lewandowski. He also has two goals in the UEFA Nations League, including the winner vs. Wales back in September.

What’s not to like: Poland manager Michniewicz has only been in charge since January 2022 after former manager Paulo Sousa left to take a job at Flamengo. Sousa was in charge for all of Poland’s qualifying group games. Michniewicz will have one more friendly vs. Chile before the World Cup starts. He has only been in charge for eight games, winning three, drawing two and losing three. Poland has the not-so-grand form of only one win in the last five. 

Poland also has a horrific track record in major tournaments as of late. In Euro 2020, the Poles finished bottom of a group consisting of Sweden, Spain and Slovakia with one point. Poland’s Euro failure was reminiscent of the 2018 World Cup, when they once again finished bottom of the group. 

X-Factor: With all the attention on front man Lewandowski, Poland will need an extra spark. Piotr Zielinski is the man for the job. The Napoli attacking midfielder has been red-hot this season. His best performance came against Liverpool in the Champions League when he scored a brace and added an assist in a 4-1 victory. Through 14 games with Napoli, he's already tallied 10 goal contributions (four goals and six assists).

Zielinski doesn’t have the track record of being a lethal scorer for Poland — nine goals in 74 caps — but Qatar could be the stage for him to make a difference.

Best Hair: Grzegorz Krychowiak

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Most likely to fuck it all up: Jan Bednarek. He starts nearly every game for Poland but hardly any for his club Aston Villa. A back-up Aston Villa defender will have to go against the likes of Lionel Messi. Yeah, good luck with that.

What will make this a good World Cup: Getting out of the group stage.

Bonus prediction: That Lil Yachty song “Poland” will be a major trend at this World Cup. We will not be able to escape the, “I took the WoOoOoOoOoOk to Poland!”

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