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EURO 2012 Preview
Poland could be poised to surprise
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - In discussions of which nations are world powerhouses, Poland is not typically mentioned and rightfully so.

The Polish team is making only its second appearance in a Euro Championship - they did not even have to go through the qualification process to compete this summer - and they have qualified for just two of the past six World Cups, failing to get past the group stage on either occasion.

But just because Poland has failed to leave an indelible mark on major tournaments in recent memory does not mean that Euro 2012's co-host cannot make it out of its group and surprise some teams in the knockout round.

Poland has been drawn into undeniably the weakest group in the field, joining Russia, Greece and the Czech Republic in Group A. Russia is the clear favorite to win the group, leaving the second-place spot up for grabs among the three remaining nations.

The White Eagles certainly have enough quality to advance to the knockout round, and they will look to their "Dortmund Trinity" to be the difference- makers who lead them out of the group stage.

With captain Jakub Blaszczykowski, right back Lukasz Piszczek and striker Robert Lewandowski - all of whom played key roles throughout the Bundesliga season in Borussia Dortmund's title defense - Poland has impact players all over the pitch.

Poland will be anchored by one of the tournament's most talented goalkeepers in Wojciech Szczesny, who plies his trade in the English Premier League with Arsenal.

Arsene Wenger hinted that the 22-year-old may be unfit this summer after stating that the 'keeper carried a shoulder injury through the last few months of the club season, but Szczesny was quick to squash any questions over his health.

"I'm healthy and there's no need to do any injections," said Szczesny. "Wenger's words were true, for about five weeks I've played injured, but it hasn't got worse during this time.

"For a week I've been resting and the pain has completely passed. I think it was a bigger scandal in the media than a real issue."

OUTLOOK

Russia looks to be the strong favorite to win a weak Group A, meaning that Poland will likely battle it out with the Czech Republic for the second-place position. Poland will certainly be playing with a frenzied following and host nations have overachieved in major tournaments before, so the White Eagles could pull off some surprises if they can advance to the knockout round.

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