Poland bid for rare fast start against Slovakia

Lewandowski's side have failed five out of six times to win their first game at the World Cup or Euros this century


REUTERS June 14, 2021

ST PETERSBURG:

Poland accept they are favourites to win their Euro 2020 Group E opener against Slovakia on Monday but must improve their poor record in tournament opening games, coach Paulo Sousa said on Sunday.

The Poles have failed five out of six times to win their first match at the World Cup or the Euros this century.

“If we have the same mentality tomorrow as our opponent, the quality players we have can make us go home with three points,” Sousa told reporters.

Sousa is a former Portugal international who took over as Poland coach in January.

“The process of team building is ongoing,” Sousa said. “For me it is a double responsibility to represent Poland - it is a duty for me to make all Poles feel proud.”

Poland’s biggest weapon should be European Golden Boot winner Robert Lewandowski, but Sousa must cope without two other big names in his attack because Arkadiusz Milik and Krzysztof Piatek are injured.

Juventus goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny and Euro 2016 stalwart Grzegorz Krychowiak are in the squad, however, as the team bid to at least match their performance of reaching the quarter-finals five years ago in France where they lost on penalties to eventual champions Portugal.

“The backbone of our team from two previous major tournaments is still here, we understand each other with eyes closed,” Krychowiak said.

Poland have scored 11 goals in five matches under Sousa in 2021, but scored the opening goal in the game only twice, against Russia and Andorra.

“It is important to score first against teams playing from counter-attack,” Krychowiak said.

“We cannot start the match in the second half.”

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