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Poland vs Northern Ireland – Match Preview

Northern Ireland are at their first major tournament for 30 years and the wait finally comes to and this evening as they take on Poland in this Group C encounter.

Michael O’Neill’s side have been on a fantastic run as of late. Their unbeaten run stands at 12 matches which is a national record and also no nation coming into the tournament has an impressive unbeaten run as that

The aim will undoubtedly be to continue that run as long as possible but that task will be made harder as they go up against one of Europe’s deadliest strikers in Robert Lewandowski. He scored a record equalling 13 goals in qualification coincidentally matching that of a former Northern Ireland player in David Healy

It would be unfair to say that Poland are a one man team but they certainly have a reliance on the Bayern Munich Forward but when you’re talents are as good as his then it would be silly not to take advantage of them

Northern Ireland may not have Lewandowski but they do have Kyle Lafferty, his return of 17 Goals in 51 international appearances means he is no stranger finding the net and he could cause the Polish backline some problems

Northern Ireland go to this tournament with nothing to lose and with only 8 teams going home at the group stages then there is every possibility that they can make at least the Round of 16. That will certainly be the target set by Michael O’Neill before the competition and that target will be a lot easier if they can get at least a point on the board by the end of this match

Poland will also be able to call on the midfield talents of Europa League winner Grzegorz Krychowiak and Fiorentina’s Jakub Blaszczykowski while a decision will have to be made as to who starts the tournament in the sticks, If it’s Wojciech Szczesny then he will hope for a better start than the 2012 edition when he was sent off in the opening game

Poland may also have to extinguish the talents of Will Grigg, can he live up to how the terrace chant suggests and be on fire. If he does then Northern Ireland will have every chance of getting something out of this game

A lot will depend on whether they can keep Robert Lewandowski, that will be a tall order for any team and for that reason alone I would make Poland the favourites. If Northern Ireland can get a draw from their opener then that will set them up nicely but regardless of the results you know there will be a party on Sunday

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