"We only need to win against the Czech Republic to achieve what's been our goal since before the tournament," explained Poland right-back Łukasz Piszczek, for whom the phrase 'Easier said than done' could possibly have been invented. With a quarter-final place up for grabs if they win Saturday's Group A showdown, though, neither he nor team-mate Robert Lewandowski are much in the mood for letting doubts cloud their vision.
The Borussia Dortmund duo know that nothing short of a victory in Wroclaw will suffice, but things could have been worse had another Dortmund man, Jakub Błaszczykowski, not secured a 1-1 draw with Russia last time out. "You tend to play better when playing for a draw rather than a win," said Lewandowski, scorer of Poland's goal in their opening 1-1 draw with Greece. "Of course we have a good chance now; we know we can beat the Czechs and I very much hope we do."
Neither player will be taking Michal Bílek's men for granted, however. "They've got very experienced players, such as [Tomáš] Rosický, [Petr] Čech and [Michal] Kadlec, who has been in the Bundesliga for some time now," said Piszczek. "It won't be an easy match, but we know our own ability and we know that if we play as we did in the first half against Greece and the second against Russia, then we'll be able to win."
"In the first game, they left themselves too open," added Lewandowski, recalling the Czechs' 4-1 loss to Russia. "The Russians picked them off and got a few goals, then sat back on the counterattack and scored a few more. In the next game [against Greece], they managed to get two very early goals and then went on to control the game."
The co-hosts will at the very least be able to count on raucous backing during the game, and Lewandowski credited the side's supporters with having already made their mark. "In these tough games, they have a great influence on the team. When we are tired, the fans sing and make a real noise and we know that they are with us."
Poland's Dortmund connection is another factor in their favour, both players having joined the current German champions in 2010, three years after Błaszczykowski had blazed the trail – and it was 'Kuba' who crossed for Lewandowski to head in the tournament's first strike.
"We know each other well and know what to expect from one another, especially as Kuba and Piszczek play together on the same side, so it's easy for them to play together," said the forward. "It would be great if all 11 players could play alongside one another in the same team, but unfortunately that's not possible."
Given their club links, Piszczek is well placed to judge his team-mates' qualities, and the full-back feels Lewandowski will again prove influential on Saturday. "He can keep the ball for a long time when it's needed," said Piszczek. "He can let the defenders rest for a while at the appropriate times and he can also score."
That is something he managed 22 times in the Bundesliga this season, and the 23-year-old has been backed by many to shine at this tournament. Despite the added attention and raised expectations, he insists that he is feeling no extra pressure.
"It's nothing out of the ordinary – a striker is always expected to score goals, but I also try hard to be involved in open play as much as possible and also provide assists," he added. "I am not the kind of striker to just operate in the box and wait for the ball to come to him. I also help out my team-mates, whether it be in defence or covering them in various situations."
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