Sunday, 12 June 2016

Poland vs Northern Ireland Euro 2016 qualifying Football Match Preview - June 12, 2016


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Poland winger Kamil Grosicki is a major doubt after he picked up an ankle injury last week against Lithuania.

The Poles are already missing two other wide players, with Maciej Rybus and Pawel Wszolek left out of the squad because of injuries.

Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty looks to have overcome the groin problem he suffered in training on Tuesday.

They have no other injury concerns, but Chris Brunt misses the tournament with a long-term knee injury.

Northern Ireland's 30-year wait is finally over as they return to a major finals for the first time since the 1986 World Cup.

Their stunning qualifying campaign - through which they became the first fifth-seeded country to win a European Championship qualifying group - has helped lift Michael O'Neill's side to their highest Fifa world ranking (25th), two places above Poland.

They are currently unbeaten in 12 games - a new national record. No country competing at Euro 2016 boasts a longer undefeated run.

They enter Euro 2016 having not conceded in 271 minutes, and they may well need to be at their disciplined, defensive best on their European Championship debut against Poland as they try to stifle the goalscoring talent of Robert Lewandowski.

The Polish centre-forward scored a joint-record 13 goals in qualifying, equalling ex-Northern Ireland striker David Healy's effort in 2008. As a team, Poland scored 33 goals - the highest total in qualifying.

Head-to-head

Northern Ireland are unbeaten in their last two games against Poland (W1, D1) after losing the previous three.
The two nations' last European Championship encounter was in 1962, when Northern Ireland won both qualifying matches 2-0.
They last met in qualifying for the 2010 World Cup. Kyle Lafferty scored for Northern Ireland in a 1-1 away draw in September 2009.

Poland

This is the third time Poland have qualified for the finals of the European Championship. They have never progressed past the group stage.
Poland are yet to win a game at the European Championship (D3, L3).
They are also yet to keep a clean sheet and have scored just three goals in six matches.
Arkadiusz Milik supplied six assists - the joint-highest figure in qualifying. Four of those assists were to Lewandowski.

Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland are appearing in their first European Championship finals.
They have played in three World Cups, reaching the quarter-finals in 1958. Their appearance in 1986 was the last time they featured at a major tournament.
More than half of Northern Ireland's 16 qualifying goals came from set-pieces - six from corners, three via indirect free-kicks. That is the highest ratio of any Euro 2016 finalist.
Kyle Lafferty was involved in half of Northern Ireland's goals in qualifying, scoring seven and assisting one.
Northern Ireland scored six headed goals in qualifying. Of all the Euro 2016 finalists, only opponents Poland had more, with eight.

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