May 14, 2006
Random World Cup Facts: Poland
Times Qualified: 7
Best Finish: Third Place (1974, 1982)
Top World Cup Goal Found on YouTube: Zbigniew Boniek hits an absolute belter against the Belgians in the second round in 1982. This goal was the first of three on the night for the legendary striker.
Poland’s Top Political Issue: As a new member of the European Union, Poland has seen many of its citizens try their luck working elsewhere in the EU. In many cases, this “invasion” of Western Europe is viewed as a nuisance.
The Sport in Poland: Poland has had its share of success at the World Cup, but it has never qualified for the European Championships. Poland’s top league, the Ekstraklasa, is primarily a feeder league for richer clubs in Western Europe. EU membership and the Bosman ruling have made this fact more evident. German and English clubs have been the ones to benefit from cheaper talent coming from Poland.
Players to Watch: The current Poland team have major defensive woes, and it begins at goalkeeper. Artur Boruc (Celtic) and Tomasz Kuszczak (West Brom) both had terribly inconsistent seasons as often times they could be counted on for sieve like performances. Jerzy Dudek (Liverpool) was a hero in last year’s Champions League final, but he has hardly featured for his club this season. Boruc and Dudek tend to have difficulty getting to high crosses, while Kuszczak’s eccentricity is his biggest problem.
Poland’s Chances: Poland is in a rather weak group, but their weakness in defense could make advancement an impossibility. Costa Rica and Germany have the ability to score in bunches and Poland may play right into their hands.
Prediction: Eliminated in Group Stage (3rd)