The Poles strolled to this summer’s championships as they recorded eight wins out of ten during qualifying, losing only once away to Slovenia and being held to a goalless draw at home to Austria on their way to topping Group G. 

Robert Lewandowski is the clear superstar in this crop but it would be doing Poland a disservice to reduce them to a one-man team; Juventus goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny, Southampton defender Jan Bednarek, Napoli’s Piotr Zielinski, Leeds midfielder Mateusz Klich and Marseille forward Arkadiusz Milik comprise the strong spine of Paulo Sousa’s side. 

The last three international breaks have been unkind to Poland, however: they have won just one of their last seven outings (a 3-0 win over Andorra) and have shipped 12 goals in that time. 


The Eastern Europeans are in attendance at a Euros for only the second time since the dissolution of Czechoslovakia and will be hoping for a repeat of their debut appearance in 2016 where they reached the last 16 before being comfortably dispatched by Germany. 

After a coming up short in a well-contested Group E in qualifying – only five points separated Croatia in first and Hungary in fourth in the five-nation group – Slovakia were handed a shot of redemption through Nations League Group B, where the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland were both narrowly seen off – the former required a penalty shoot-out, while the latter were taken to extra-time.  


In what is quick becoming a staple of build-up to a major summer tournament, the Spanish once again find themselves heading into the Euros in a state of disarray. Former Barcelona manager Luis Enrique has been making headlines for all the wrong reasons back in his homeland after he decided not to include a single Real Madrid player in his 24-man squad, electing to leave two berths entirely empty. 

It is a bold call from Enrique – particularly the decision to overlook central defender Sergio Ramos – but it could just be the catalyst Spain need to recapture their former glory. It’s been nine years since they last reached the quarter-finals of a major tournament but the 6-0 dismantling of Germany in the Nations League last November showed that on their day, they can tear anyone to shreds. 


The Swedes over-performed during their last outing at a tournament as they reached the last eight of the 2018 World Cup before going out with a whimper against England. Despite their exit, it was an important tournament for Sweden as they showed that they could reach the knockout stages in the post-Zlatan era. 

The AC Milan striker received a first call-up in five years back in March but will miss the tournament after picking up an injury. But as their record in qualifying shows – they lost only once in ten games, away to Spain – Ibrahimovic shouldn’t be too great a miss. Expect the Swedes to be functional and solid, if a little unspectacular. 


Rangers fans will want to keep one eye on Sweden to see how centre-back Filip Helander fares on the international stage but rival supporters from the other side of the Old Firm divide will have their interest piqued too. You see, there’s a young Swedish lad called Jordan up front and he’s scored a barrel load of goals for Spartak Moscow. He’s never played in Scotland but apparently his dad used to turn out for Celtic. Henrik something or other. Fella with dreadlocks, we’re told. 


Poland – Robert Lewandowski 

The Bayern Munich striker is coming into the Euros hot off the back of one of the finest individual campaigns seen at the top levels of the game in some time – he scored an astonishing 41 goals in 29 Bundesliga appearances last term – and it’s fair to say that Poland’s hopes will rest on the 32-year-old’s shoulders. 

Lewandowski was a shoo-in for last year’s Ballon d’Or before it was cancelled and his status as one of the world’s greatest players is beyond dispute. However, the Bayern centre-forward will be looking to offer his country more when it really matters: in eight games at the finals of a major tournament, he has scored just twice. 

Slovakia – Milan Skriniar 

Slovakia have long relied on playmaker Marek Hamsik to cut open their opponents and while the 33-year-old is approaching the end of his career, he remains the most technical player that Slovakia have to offer and their greatest creative threat. 

However, the Trabzonspor midfielder’s status as his country’s most influential player is under threat following the emergence of centre-half Skriniar, a recent Serie A winner with Inter Milan. The 26-year-old played a crucial role as Antonio Conte’s side won their first Scudetto in over a decade and Slovakia’s stingy defence would suggest they are benefitting from the defender’s composure at the back. 

Spain – Rodri 

The Manchester City midfielder  has enjoyed a fine season under the tutelage of Pep Guardiola and the 24-year-old should start at the base of midfield with Barcelona mainstay Sergio Busquets self-isolating after testing positive for Covid.

Rodri has bucketloads of big-game experience and his composure will give Enrique’s side a platform on which to build. Seen by many in Spain as a long-term successor to Busquets, this could be he tournament when he nails down his place in Luis Enrique's starting XI.

Sweden – Alexander Isak 

Much was expected of the centre-forward when Borussia Dortmund snapped him up at the age of 17 for a reported fee of 7million euros – a record sum received by a Swedish club – but after failing to make the breakthrough in Germany, Isak is now thriving in Spain. 

He made the switch to Real Sociedad in 2019 and the striker hasn’t looked back since. In February of this year he scored his first hat-trick for the La Liga club against Deportivo Alaves, and two months later played virtually the entire game as his team defeated Basque rivals Athletic Bilbao 1-0 to win the delayed 2020 Copa del Rey final.