This will be a big tournament for Zieliński personally, as his 2016 Euro tournament ended in embarrassment. He was subbed out just 45 minutes into the team’s final group stage match against Ukraine, and then never saw the pitch again. But he’s come back strong since then, and has been a mainstay in Poland’s lineup during the qualifying rounds, getting more minutes than everyone on the team except Lewandowski.


Zieliński will be relied on to bring spark and creativity to Poland’s midfield, and to combine with Lewandowski in attack. He’s a young, talented player who is eager to prove himself, and those are some of the most fun players to watch at the World Cup.

How They Play

Poland is another team that has had trouble settling on a formation. Manager Adam Nawałka has been trying to find a way to improve the defense, which was good in Euro 2016 but had the worst defensive record of any group winner in World Cup qualifying. He experimented with a 3-4-3 formation in a few friendlies, but usually has the squad in a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-4-2.


But no amount of formation shifting will be able to solve the fact that most of the defensive players, aside from world-class keeper Wojciech Szczęsny, just aren’t very good. What Nawałka will need to do is find the formation that best empowers Zieliński, Lewandowski, and the oft-injured but talented Milik to get up the field and score enough goals to outpace their opponents. If those three can all get on the field together and start bombing away, good things might happen.

Group H Fixtures

All times Eastern

June 19, 11 a.m.: Poland vs. Senegal at Spartak Stadium

June 24, 2 p.m.: Poland vs. Colombia at Kazan Arena

June 28, 10 a.m.: Japan vs. Poland at Volgograd Arena