IT is not so long ago that Irish fans invaded the Polish city of Poznan en masse. It will be a far cry from the scenes of Euro 2012 tonight. Only a few hundred Irish fans are expected to travel to Poznan to see their team face off against Poland.
The excitement surrounding the Martin O’Neill appointment was only heightened after an impressive 3-0 victory over Latvia. Ireland played with an adventure and abandon that had not being seen under the Giovanni Trappatoni era.
O’Neill is expected to experiment for the clash with Poland as he surveys his options for Euro 2016. Robbie Keane is definitely out of the game with an Achilles injury. However Ireland is not the only side under a new regime.
Poland’s World Cup campaign was dismal as they only finished above Moldova and San Marino. They won only 3 of their 10 matches. In addition to that they conceded 12 goals in that time.
Since then Waldemar Fornalik has been sacked as manager and has been replaced by Adam Nawalka. In contrast to O’Neill’s reign with Ireland, Nawalka’s era as Poland manager got off to a disaster.
They were comfortably beaten 2-0 at home by Slovakia and were lucky it was not more as the Slovak’s spurned a number of guilt edged opportunities.
They are not without their star performers, however. Their goalkeeper, Artur Boruc, has been in impressive form. This season he has only conceded 5 goals in 11 games for his club side Southampton. It is the lowest of any club in the English Premiership.
Furthermore, in Robert Lewandowski they have one of the best strikers in the world. He is the highest scorer in the German Bundesliga so far this year with nine goals. In addition to this he has scored 18 times in 56 games for Poland.
The Polish have not scored in their last 3 games but with a revamped Irish defence to take to the field tonight that could well change.
As both sides continue to develop under their respective new regimes we can see goals. Poland only lost once at home in their qualifying campaign. Ireland though is rejuvenated under Martin O’Neill. A draw is the most likely result tonight.
Indeed that result would be a far cry from what occurred at Euro 2012 too.