Poland (Biało-Czerwoni)

Third Place: 2 (1974, 1982)
Round of 16: 2 (1938,1986)
Group Stage: 4 (1978, 2002, 2006, 2018)
Current FIFA Ranking: 11

Robert Lewandowski

Read More

Piotr Zieliński

Read More

Wojciech Szczęsny

Read More

Czesław Michniewicz

Read More

Group C Schedule

Game 1 – Tuesday 22nd November 2022


19:00 Qatar Time/16:00 GMT

Stadium 974, Doha

Game 2 – Saturday 26th November 2022

Saudi Arabia

16:00 Qatar Time/13:00 GMT

Education City Stadium, Al Rayyan

Game 3 – Wednesday 30th November 2022​


22:00 Qatar Time/19:00 GMT

Stadium 974, Doha

Notable Honours


During a period which can be defined as the golden age for Polish football, Poland achieved two third-placed finishes at the World Cup in 1974 and 1982. They also added an Olympic Gold Medal in 1972 and a Silver Medal in 1976. Another Olympic Silver Medal was won in 1992.


Following Poland’s independence in 1918, as confirmed by the Treaty of Versailles in 1919, Poland played its first international match against Hungary in Budapest, which ended in a narrow 1-0 defeat. The following May would see the Poles record their first victory in international football – a 2-1 win over Sweden in Stockholm. In 1937, Poland reached another significant milestone as they qualified for their first-ever World Cup, defeating Yugoslavia 4-0 and losing the reverse fixture 1-0, which ensured their passage. With the 1938 World Cup being a knockout format, Poland were drawn against Brazil in the round of 16, in a match which was memorable for a remarkable goalscoring demonstration from Ernst Wilimowski, who finished with four goals. Taking the Brazilians into extra time, Poland narrowly lost 6-5. Shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War, Poland were to play their final match for seven years, defeating World Cup runners-up Hungary 4-2.

Mixed fortunes characterised the post-war period for the Polish side. In 1946, Poland resumed their participation in international football in a friendly match against Norway, falling to a 3-1 defeat. However, soon afterwards, they were able to defeat one of Europe’s strongest sides in Czechoslovakia in a memorable 3-1 victory. Unfortunately, in 1948 they were to suffer an ignominious 8-0 defeat against a strong Danish side containing several players who would go on to play in some of Europe’s top leagues, most notably Italy’s Serie A. They did not enter a team for the 1950 World Cup and withdrew from qualification in 1954 as they did not believe they would make it past Hungary, arguably Europe’s strongest team. In 1958, Poland did enter qualification, and despite suffering an initial 3-0 defeat to the Soviet Union, they were remarkably able to secure maximum points from their remaining three fixtures. These included 3-1 and 4-0 victories against Finland and a 2-1 defeat of the Soviet Union on home soil in a famous match where diminutive striker Gerard Cieślik scored both goals. Unfortunately for the Poles, the Soviet Union advanced due to their vastly superior goal ratio (goals for divided by goals conceded, a forerunner to goal difference). This was primarily due to the Soviets’ 10-0 decimation of Finland. However, Poland had impressed and had arguably arrived on the World stage despite not reaching the tournament proper.

Three World Cup Qualification Failures and the Olympic Triumph

In the convoluted form of qualification for the 1962 World Cup in Chile, Poland failed to qualify at the first hurdle after being drawn with an impressive Yugoslavia team. Indeed, the Yugoslavs had reached the final of the European Championship in 1960, won an Olympic Gold Medal in the same year, and reached consecutive quarter-finals in the 1954 and 1958 editions of the World Cup, and would go on to achieve fourth place in Chile. Poland managed a 1-1 draw on home soil but lost in Yugoslavia 2-1. Poland were placed in a tough qualifying group for the 1966 World Cup, facing Italy, Scotland and Finland with only one qualification spot available. Mixed qualification performances included a 0-0 draw with Italy in Poland, a 2-1 victory in Scotland, an embarrassing 2-0 defeat to minnows Finland and a heavy 6-1 defeat on Italian soil to leave the Poles in third place. Poland narrowly missed out on qualification in 1970, with a 4-1 loss away to qualifiers Bulgaria proving decisive in the end.

Poland’s real breakthrough in international football came in the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich. Despite repeated failures to qualify for the European Championship and a succession of World Cup qualifying heartbreaks, Poland dominated the tournament from the start. Indeed, they had a highly talented cast of players who were to feature heavily in Poland’s golden generation. These included attacking midfield visionary Kazimierz Deyna, defensive mainstay Jerzy Gorgoń and Poland’s second top goalscorer of all-time, Włodzimierz Lubański. Notable matches were 2-1 victories over East Germany and the Soviet Union before defeating Hungary by the same scoreline in the final courtesy of two goals from Deyna.

The 1974 World Cup

Expectations for the 1974 qualifying campaign were high, despite being drawn with 1970 World Cup quarter-finalists England. Poland got off to the worst possible start with a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Wales. However, fortunately for Poland, the Welsh had also taken a point from the English in a 1-1 draw at Wembley. In a crucial match with England, Poland emerged victorious 2-0 and were also able to exact revenge on Wales in a 3-0 win notable for Grzegorz Lato’s first competitive international goal. In what was effectively a play-off to decide who would progress to the finals in West Germany, England dominated proceedings but could find no way past an obstinate Poland other than an Allan Clarke penalty in response to Jan Domarski’s opener. With England registering 35 attempts on goal, goalkeeper Jan Tomaszewski, labelled a ‘clown’ by respected football manager Brian Clough, was instrumental to Poland’s progression producing an ‘eccentric’ (according to the reports at the time) but masterful performance.

With qualification secured for the 1974 World Cup, Poland took the tournament in West Germany by storm. First came a 3-2 victory over Argentina, with Lato scoring twice. A 7-0 demolition of Haiti ensued, with Andrzej Szarmach scoring a hat trick to take him to four goals for the tournament, in addition to two more for Lato and Deyna’s first World Cup goal. Poland then progressed to the second group stage at the expense of Italy despite Fabio Capello’s late goal. Poland were to secure another two victories, first against Sweden 1-0, with Lato notching the winner and then against Yugoslavia, with Lato following Deyna’s opening goal from the spot and Lato finding the net yet again for the decisive goal. The final group match against West Germany was to decide who would face the Netherlands in the final. On a waterlogged pitch that was not conducive to Poland’s free-flowing, slick passing style of football, the game descended into a farce at times, with one goal-bound effort stopped in its tracks by a puddle. West Germany battled through to a 1-0 victory courtesy of legendary goalscorer Gerd Muller. Paul Breitner reflected afterwards “I can remember one game where I’ve always maintained we beat a team which was fundamentally better than us. In fact, it was definitely the best team in the competition and still didn’t win the World Cup. I mean Poland in 1974.”

The 1978 World Cup

Poland failed to make their first-ever European Championship in 1976, mainly because they were placed in the same qualification group as the Netherlands and Italy. Having three strong teams in one group was surely a casualty of scheduling. Despite going one win apiece with the Netherlands with a 4-1 victory at home at a 3-0 away defeat, two goalless stalemates with Italy put paid to any hopes of progression. The Poles put this disappointment behind them and qualified for a second consecutive World Cup tournament in Argentina. They got there comfortably – the sole match they could not win was a draw in the final game against Portugal once qualification was assured.

In the tournament proper, Poland advanced comfortably through the first group stage, drawing 0-0 with West Germany and defeating Mexico and Tunisia. The Poles faced an unenviable task to reach their first-ever World Cup final, having to win a group containing hosts Argentina and a talented Brazil side featuring Zico and Reinaldo, amongst others. To compound matters, Peru, who had topped their first stage group, which included the Netherlands, were also there. Sadly, Poland lost to Argentina and Brazil by scorelines of 2-0 and 3-1 respectively and failed to qualify for the final.

The 1982 and 1986 World Cups

Yet again, Poland failed to qualify for the European Championships. By this point, they had entered six qualification campaigns and failed to secure a place at Europe’s premier tournament, in sharp contrast to their World Cup fortunes. This time, in 1980, they were paired with the Netherlands yet again. With qualification seemingly in their hands, while leading the Dutch 1-0 through a Wojciech Rudy goal, the Dutch rallied to equalise in the second half through Huub Stevens. Poland’s failure to qualify was later confirmed as the Netherlands came from 2-0 down to defeat East Germany 3-2 in their final group match. However, in a truncated Group 7 featuring just East Germany and Malta as opposition, Poland breezed through to their third consecutive World Cup finals, winning all four matches.

Poland were to endure a slow start to the 1982 tournament, opening with two 0-0 draws with Italy and Cameroon. In their final group match with qualification for the second group stage at stake, Poland came alive within a 21-minute spell in the second half, scoring five goals (Włodzimierz Smolarek, Lato, Zbigniew Boniek, Andrzej Buncol and Włodzimierz Ciołek) in reply to Peru’s sole effort. In the second group stage, Poland brushed Belgium aside 3-0 thanks to a Boniek hat-trick and played out a 0-0 draw with the Soviet Union to progress to the final four. Poland came up against Italy in the semi-final stage, but they succumbed to a 2-0 defeat due to two goals from the revitalised Italian forward Paolo Rossi. Rossi went on to win both the World Cup and the Golden Boot.

Following a hugely disappointing qualification campaign for Euro ’84 in which they registered one victory from six matches, Poland qualified for their fourth consecutive World Cup, this time in Mexico. While Poland emerged from the group stage, they were relatively unimpressive in scoring a single goal in the 1-0 victory over Portugal and suffering a comprehensive 3-0 defeat to England. Poland were duly thrashed by tournament favourites Brazil 4-0, bringing an end to their Mexican adventure.

Tournament Drought. Then 2002-2008

A 16-year tournament drought followed, with Poland failing to qualify for three World Cups and four European Championships before their 2002 World Cup qualification campaign. Poland finally ended this dismal run, qualifying for South Korea/Japan. Drawn alongside hosts South Korea, Portugal and the United States, Poland’s chances of reaching the second round evaporated quickly thanks to a 2-0 defeat to South Korea in their opener and a comprehensive 4-0 defeat to Portugal. A 3-1 victory in the final group match against the United States restored some pride, but the United States still advanced thanks to a 3-2 win over Portugal and a 1-1 draw with South Korea.

Poland secured qualification for the 2006 World Cup in Germany in emphatic style, taking 24 points from a possible 30 and with their only losses coming in the form of a pair of 2-1 defeats to England. Sadly, Poland suffered a poor start once again, with Ecuador effectively qualifying at their expense as a result of a 2-0 Polish loss in their opener. A late 1-0 defeat to Germany confirmed their exit, as both Germany and Ecuador now had six points. Poland were victorious in their final game against Costa Rica 2-1, a dead rubber.

In 2008, Poland qualified for their first-ever European Championship following a strong qualification campaign to top a group containing Portugal, Serbia and Belgium, led by Ebi Smolarek’s nine goals. Drawn in a strong group with Germany, Croatia and Austria, Poland’s campaign lasted just three matches. A late equaliser from the Austrians in a 1-1 draw dashed any hope of Poland recording their first Euro win. A 1-0 defeat to Croatia in the final group game left the Poles with a single point.

2012-2022: Hosting the European Championship and Recent Fortunes

A failure to qualify for consecutive World Cups in 2010 and 2014 bookended another disappointment as co-hosts in Euro 2012. Despite having attacking talents such as Robert Lewandowski and Jakub Błaszczykowski at their disposal, Poland finished bottom of their group. Poland returned to the European stage in France ’16, and this time they successfully progressed beyond the group stage. Built upon a series of impressive, defensively solid performances, Poland reached the second round without conceding a goal, including a 0-0 draw with World Champions Germany. Poland faced Portugal in the quarter-finals after progressing past Switzerland on penalties after a 1-1 draw. There was another 1-1 draw after Lewandowski’s second-minute opener was cancelled out by Renato Sanches’ equaliser in the 33rd minute. However, Ricardo Quaresma scored the decisive penalty following Błaszczykowski’s miss to ensure progression for the Portuguese.

On the back of a record 16 goals in qualification from world-class talent Lewandowski, Poland were favourites to advance from their group in the 2018 World Cup. However, a disappointing performance followed in Russia, as Poland lost their opening two group games to Senegal and Colombia before defeating Japan 1-0. Most recently, Poland were eliminated in the group stage of Euro 2020, despite Lewandowski’s three strikes. They travel to Qatar with a real chance of making the round of sixteen, knowing it is likely between them and Mexico to finish second to Argentina in Group C.

Road to Qualification

UEFA Group I: 2nd
Record: Played:10  W:6  D:2  L:2  F:30  A:11  GD:+9  Points:20
Play-offs: Russia (walkover), Poland 2-0 Sweden

In a generally impressive qualification campaign, Poland finished as runners-up to Euro 2020 finalists England, holding them to a 1-1 draw in September 2021. Benefitting from a walkover against Russia for political reasons, Poland defeated seeded Sweden in the play-off final 2-0 thanks to a Lewandowski penalty and a Piotr Zielinski goal. Lewandowski led the way with eight goals during the main group stage, with Lens target man Adam Buksa and Charlotte FC striker Karol Świderski contributing with five goals apiece.

Meet the Coach: Czesław Michniewicz (age 52)

Following previous incumbent Paulo Sousa’s decision to join Brazilian giants Flamengo, Poland have turned to former under-21 coach Czesław Michniewicz. He boasts a wealth of domestic managerial experience spanning 20 years and managing some of Poland’s biggest clubs. Indeed, Michniewicz won two Ekstraklasa titles with Zagłebie Lubin in 2007 and Legia Warsaw in 2021, in addition to a Polish Cup and two Polish Super Cups.

Possible Starting XI and Style of Play

Czesław Michniewicz has a (perhaps unearned) reputation for a direct style of football characterised by caution. Michniewicz has refuted such criticisms, stating, “Contrary to some opinions, I love playing offensively but, most of all, I love winning”. Michniewicz is not afraid to switch formations mid-match and will adapt according to the run of play. If Poland revert to a back four, Aston Villa’s Matty Cash could be preferred. If Michniewicz feels that Poland need another striker, we can expect to see Juventus striker Arkadiusz Milik. Michniewicz has shown faith in Roma’s breakthrough prospect Nicola Zalewski, and we expect him to play in the opening game against Mexico. Overall, the Poles will be tough to break down and look to their talented attackers to produce at the other end.

Squad List


Goalkeepers: Wojciech Szczesny, Bartlomiej Dragowski, Lukasz Skorupski

Defenders: Jan Bednarek, Kamil Glik, Robert Gumny, Artur Jedrzejczyk, Jakub Kiwior, Mateusz Wieteska, Bartosz Bereszynski, Matthew Cash, Nicola Zalewski

Midfielders: Krystian Bielik, Przemyslaw Frankowski , Kamil Grosicki, Grzegorz Krychowiak, Jakub Kaminski, Michal Skoras, Damian Szymanski, Sebastian Szymanski, Piotr Zielinski, Szymon Zurkowski

Forwards: Robert Lewandowski, Arkadiusz Milik, Krzysztof Piatek, Karol Swiderski

Key Players







Robert Lewandowski

Date and Place of Birth: (21.08.1988, Warsaw)
Current Club: Barcelona
Caps/Goals: 134/76

Poland’s record goalscorer, twice World Footballer of the Year in 2020 and 2021, averaging over a goal per game in all competitions during the last three seasons, Lewandowski needs no introduction. With his game predicated upon technical brilliance, elusiveness and superb decision-making, Lewandowski honed his craft before his breakthrough second season at Dortmund. He has now firmly established himself as a permanent presence amongst the game’s elite. He took his game to new heights at Bayern Munich, averaging nearly a goal per game in the Champions League and scoring a frankly ridiculous 41 goals in 29 league games in 2020-2021. Perhaps the world’s most in-form striker heading into the tournament, Poland’s hopes of progression will surely rest upon Lewandowski’s goals.

Piotr Zieliński

Date and Place of Birth: (20.05.1994, Ząbkowice Śląskie)
Current Club: Napoli
Caps/Goals: 74/9

A technically gifted attacking midfielder with a superb touch, Zieliński will be required to provide defence-splitting passes in Qatar. Above all, he must ensure that Lewandowski doesn’t have to drop deep in search of the ball too often. A familiar sight for fans of European club football, Napoli’s Zieliński is also a capable finisher in his own right but prefers to dictate the play and create for others. He is also often praised for his intelligence and ability to see everything on the pitch. Zieliński will be crucial in ensuring that Poland make their possession count, as it may be limited in the final group match against a very strong Argentina side.

Wojciech Szczęsny

Date and Place of Birth: (18.04.1990, Warsaw)
Current Club: Juventus
Caps/Goals: 66/0

Following an injury scare against Spezia in late August, Poland will be thankful that the Juventus man seems to have fully recovered. Szczęsny has established himself as one of the world’s best goalkeepers, following a promising yet erratic career at Arsenal, which stalled due to a perceived lack of discipline. This lack of focus resulted in some high-profile errors and weaknesses in his game, such as dealing with crosses. Szczęsny has matured at Juventus and credits his improvement to what he perceives as superior coaching. Indeed, he has gone as far as to state that the goalkeeping coaching is “very technical and pays more attention to the detailsˮ. Szczęsny has been praised for his consistent, efficient style of goalkeeping as opposed to a more spectacular fashion. Indeed, he has superb reflexes and positioning and will need to make use of them in Qatar.

Beat the Bookmaker Verdict:

Group Stage