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Poland hoping to conquer Croatia

The stakes could hardly be higher for Poland when they take on Croatia for the first time in a competitive international in their final Group B fixture in Klagenfurt.

Poland coach Leo Beenhakker will prime his side for the test Croatia pose
Poland coach Leo Beenhakker will prime his side for the test Croatia pose ©Getty Images

The stakes could hardly be higher for Poland when they take on Croatia for the first time in a competitive international in their final Group B fixture in Klagenfurt.

• While Croatia have booked their place in the quarter-finals – and as group winners – with a game to spare, for Poland even victory might not be enough. Leo Beenhakker's side lie fourth in the section after taking one point from their first two games, and their campaign will be over regardless of the result at the Wörthersee Stadion should Germany beat Austria in the section's other concluding game, while victories for Austria and Poland would mean the issue is likely to be decided by goal difference.

• Poland opened their campaign with a 2-0 reverse against Germany in Klagenfurt, the Polish-born striker Lukas Podolski striking in each half to condemn Beenhakker's team to defeat on their finals debut. It looked as if they would revive their hopes by overcoming Austria in Vienna in their second fixture, however, thanks to Roger Guerreiro's 30th-minute strike, but in added time Marcin Wasilewski pulled Sebastian Prödl's shirt and Ivica Vastic scored from the penalty spot to rescue a point that leaves Austria third, above Poland on goal difference.

• Croatia, meanwhile, have enjoyed this year's EURO experience rather more thus far with Luka Modrić's fourth-minute penalty securing victory against co-hosts Austria in Vienna first time out. Slaven Bilić's team built on that win at the Wörthersee Stadion in their second fixture, Darijo Srna and Ivica Olić scoring in the 24th and 62nd minutes respectively and, although Podolski pulled a goal back with eleven minutes remaining, Croatia held on against opponents who ended with ten men following Bastian Schweinsteiger's red card in added time.

• Those results left Croatia with six points, three clear at the head of the section and assured of first place with a game still to play. Germany have three points and Austria and Poland one each.

• For a Poland team making their tournament debut, progress to the last eight  would represent another first while Croatia have been quarter-finalists once before, on their own first EURO finals appearance in 1996. Croatia failed to advance from the group stage on their second appearance at UEFA EURO 2004™.

• Euzebiusz Smolarek's 54th-minute goal gave Poland a 1-0 win when the teams last met in a friendly in Wolfsburg, Germany on 3 June 2006 prior to that summer's FIFA World Cup.

• The teams in Wolfsburg were:
Poland: Artur Boruc, Jacek Bąk (Bartosz Bosacki 76), Michał Żewłakow, Marcin Baszczyński, Mariusz Jop, Jacek Krzynówek (Kamil Kosowski 74), Euzebiusz Smolarek (Ireneusz Jeleń 83), Arkadiusz Radomski, Radosław Sobolewski (Mariusz Lewandowski 85), Mirosław Szymkowiak (Sebastian Mila 64), Maciej Żurawski (Grzegorz Rasiak 89).

Croatia: Tomislav Butina, Robert Kovač, Dario Šimić (Mario Tokić 87), Josip Šimunić, Jurica Vranješ (Jerko Leko 64), Marko Babić, Darijo Srna (Marijan Buljat 46), Luka Modrić (Boško Balaban 73), Ivica Olić (Ivan Bošnjak 46), Niko Kranjcar (Ivan Leko 46), Ivan Klasnić.

• That was Poland's only victory in four attempts against Croatia, who won the countries' first two meetings in the 1990s.

• Croatia won 2-1 at home to Poland in a February 1996 friendly in Rijeka and then recorded a 4-1 home success in Osijek in April 1998, in which the current Croatia coach Slaven Bilić and defender Dario Šimić both appeared.

• Poland earned a goalless draw in Split on their third visit to Croatia in February 2003.

• The teams that day were:
Croatia: Stipe Pletikosa, Igor Tudor (Jerko Leko 63), Stjepan Tomas, Boris Živković (Dario Šimić 46), Robert Kovač, Josip Šimunić, Marko Babić (Ivica Mornar 46), Đovani Roso (Miljenko Mumlek 88), Darijo Srna (Anthony Šerić 46), Ivica Olić, Tomislav Marić (Marijo Marić 67).
Poland: Jerzy Dudek, Jacek Bąk, Maciej Stolarczyk, Marcin Baszczyński, Arkadiusz Głowacki, Piotr Świerczewski, Bartosz Karwan (Roman Dąbrowski 56), Radosław Kałużny (Arkadiusz Radomski 70), Kamil Kosowski, Maciej Żurawski (Tomasz Dawidowski 78), Emmanuel Olisadebe.

• As coach of Real Madrid CF, Poland trainer Leo Beenhakker oversaw a narrow away-goals victory against Yugoslavian champions FK Crvena Zvezda in the 1986/87 European Champions Clubs' Cup quarter-finals. Madrid lost the first leg 4-2 but won the return 2-0.

• Croatia coach Bilić scored for German team Karlsruher SC in a 6-1 victory away against Poland's Górnik Zabrze in the UEFA Intertoto Cup in July 1995.

• Srna scored Croatia's goal in a 1-1 draw with Poland in the final round of the UEFA European Under-16 Championship in 1999.

• Srna plays in the same midfield as Poland's Mariusz Lewandowski at their club side FC Shakhtar Donetsk.

• Poland forward Łukasz Piszczek is a colleague of Croatia defender Josip Šimunić at Hertha BSC Berlin.

• This is the 13th edition of the UEFA European Championship and the eighth edition that features a final tournament with a group phase.