As a country with just three victories at a major tournament in 30 years, Poland can do with all the experience they can muster of high-level success as they prepare to carry the expectations of a nation into Friday's UEFA EURO 2012 opening game against Greece.
So the presence in their squad of three players who won the German Bundesliga this season with Borussia Dortmund should not be underestimated – not least that of striker Robert Lewandowski. The scorer of 30 goals in all competitions for his club in 2011/12, he will have a key role to play for the co-hosts, according to his team-mate Eugen Polanksi.
The 1. FSV Mainz 05 player described Lewandowski, the Bundesliga's player of the season, as a striker on a par with FC Bayern München's Mario Gomez. He said: "Lewandowski is definitely one of the best strikers I have played with and against. He's up there with Gomez among the best strikers in the Bundesliga, no doubt about it.
"In fact, the Dortmund trio of Lewandowski, [midfielder Jakub] Błaszczykowski and [defender Łukasz] Piszczek are really important for us," added Polanski. "I'm not saying it's just about those three players but there's no denying their importance to us.
If we are in trouble they are the ones we turn to."
This is undoubtedly the case but other players have telling roles to play too and Polanski has emerged as a key player himself since declaring his allegiance to Poland last year. Born in in Sosnowiec in western Poland, but raised in Germany from a young age, he had previously represented the country of his upbringing at Under-21 level, but is now wholly committed to the White and Reds.
Speaking to reporters today in fluent Polish, the 26-year-old said: "When I heard the national anthem I felt 100% Polish.
Hearing the anthem convinced me I had made the right choice to play for Poland. I proved not only that my body is with Poland but also my heart."
Looking ahead to Poland's opening assignment against Greece, Polanski stressed the importance of his team-mates staying patient. "It's very important that we don't rush at Greece, trying to score in the first few minutes," he said. "A goal scored in the 80th minute is just as good as one in the opening minutes. It's important we're careful and don't get punished by the Greeks on the counterattack, so the players and the fans will have to be patient."
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