Group C gets underway with Poland facing Euro 2016 underdogs Northern Ireland and Will Burns is looking forward to some goals in this encounter.
Sunday 12th June 2016 – 17:00 BST
EURO 2016 – GROUP C
POLAND v NORTHERN IRELAND
Making their European Championship debut, Northern Ireland face an awesome task in their first game against Robert Lewandowski and Poland.
Despite qualifying in style, finishing top of Group F after being declared fifth seeds in the six-team section, no one is predicting Northern Ireland to shock many teams in the tournament. Michael O’Neill performed a minor miracle getting his team to France and he may have to perform another to keep them past the group stage after being drawn with Poland, Ukraine and World champions Germany.
O’Neill has some good news this week after a scare when qualifying top scorer Kyle Lafferty picked up a knock in training, but has now been announced fit to partner Conor Washington in attack.
The bad news for Northern Ireland is that Poland has no pressing injury concerns and coach Adam Nawalka is expected to name his strongest eleven. In a 4-4-2 formation, Poland will start with the terrifying strikeforce of Robert Lewandowski and Arek Milik.
Bayern Munich hitman Lewandowski, who netted 13 league goals in qualifying, has created a formidable partnership with Ajax youngster Milik and their performances will decide whether or not the Poles can make an impact in the tournament.
In this game, although Northern Ireland’s strength is at the back, I see Poland winning comfortably with plenty of goals going in. Nawalka’s men were the highest scorers in qualifying, netting a grand total 33 goals in ten games.
Even though the Poles have failed to win their last two friendlies (2-1 defeat to Netherlands and 0-0 draw with Lithuania) they won all four previous finding the net 13 times. I envisage Lewandowski and Milik having plenty of opportunities to notch more to their internationally tallies.
Lewandowski has scored goals for fun this past season in the Bundesliga, Champions League and internationals and I cannot comprehend any suggestions that Craig Cathcart, Jonny Evans or Gareth McAuley could stop him on the big stage.
If you’re betting… good luck!
TIP: Correct Score – Poland 4-0 Northern Ireland (34.00 at Paddy Power)