Poland v Portugal - Expert v Expert Preview

The first of the quarter-finals takes place in Marseille on Thursday evening, as Poland face up to Portugal in what looks to be a tight contest.

Robert Lewandowski and Cristiano Ronaldo will be the men looking to inspire their teams, but to profile them we’ve got Janusz Michallik and Tom Kundert.



Janusz Michallik on Poland: Reaching the quarter-finals of the European Championships for the first time after a Jekyll and Hyde performance against Switzerland gives Poland huge momentum considering the fact that they found out how to grind out a result without playing extremely well.

Manager Adam Nawałka may have been pulling all the right strings up until now, but he showed his inexperience in big tournaments by not recognizing how tired his side looked in the second half.  The lack of substitutions in regular time showed that he did not fully trust his bench.

He will have to learn to do that against Portugal in critical moments and has a full squad at his disposal, as Wojciech Szczęsny is healthy and back in training. Look for the same starting XI from the Switzerland game.

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Tom Kundert on Portugal: João Moutinho is back in full training after missing the Croatia game through injury, but left-back Raphael Guerreiro and midfielder André Gomes only did gym work at the start of the week and may not be fit for the Poland clash.

If neither make it, Eliseu will likely replace Guerreiro in the starting XI, while Moutinho or Renato Sanches should get the call in place of Gomes. 



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Michallik: Although Poland finally conceded against Switzerland to a wonder goal from Xherdan Shaqiri, Łukasz Fabiański has been outstanding in goal and may very much be the reason why Poland are where they are.

The backline has been strong, led by Kamil Glik, who has just signed for Monaco. Grzegorz Krychowiak did not have his normal performance and showed signs of fatigue, so perhaps the few extra days of rest will get him back to his usual standard as Poland can’t afford to have him playing below his normal level. Kuba Błaszczykowski continues to be the attacking force with two goals and an assist, and will need to be at his best to compensate for a lack of goals elsewhere.

Kundert: Portugal against Croatia wasn't one for the purists, with Portugal attracting criticism in what was a dour game. Fernando Santos and his men won’t worry about that one iota, as they extend their unbeaten record in competitive play to 11 games.

With Poland having conceded just one goal all tournament, we can expect another tight match in Marseille.



Michallik: Kamil Grosicki. The left midfielder has been causing problems with his pace against some of the best in this tournament. His speed, ability on the dribble and tremendous work rate on both sides of the ball will be required once again.

More importantly, Poland may have to revert to type, or their DNA (Poland have been very proactive in early stages of games) and look to play on the counter against Portugal, as they will have to deny them space in behind. If that is the case, Grosicki becomes the best and most dangerous outlet on the break.

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Kundert: Pepe. After showing less than stellar form in the group phase, centre-back Pepe was back to his brilliant best against the Croats. Dominant in the air and vigilant on the ground, the Real Madrid defender did not lose a single battle during the 120 minutes.

Robert Lewandowski may not have found the net yet at Euro 2016 but nobody can doubt his quality and in a match that may well be decided by a single goal, it will be vital Pepe and company repeat their solid defensive showing against Croatia to shut out the Bayern Munich striker.



Michallik: Poland need Robert Lewandowski to kick into gear. Look for the captain to score the winner at 3.30. If he does and sends Poland to the semi-finals, all will be forgotten. 

Kundert: In keeping with most matches in this tournament, and given what is at stake, we can expect another extremely tight encounter with chances at premium. Poland have an excellent defence, and Santos’s sides are always difficult to score against. Two goals or less at 1.43 would appear a sensible choice. 



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Michallik: Poland looked great on penalties against Switzerland and could make history once again if it gets this far. That’s where I see this game being decided, so I will take Poland to win on penalties at 10.00

Kundert: Pepe came close to finding the net from a corner against Croatia, and after his man-of-the-match performance he will be full of confidence. Always a threat in the air from set pieces, Pepe to score from a header at 28.00 is a tempting bet.



Michallik: Poland 1-1 Portugal at 6.30, then the penalties. 

Kundert: Poland 0-1 Portugal at 5.80.