Poland vs Portugal Preview: Which side will progress to book an unlikely last four spot?

Poland go head-to-head with Portugal in the first quarter-final at Euro 2016 with both teams looking to be the first team through to the semi-finals.

Poland vs Portugal Preview: Which side will progress to book an unlikely last four spot?
Photo: Harry Robinson/VAVEL UK

The first quarter-final at Euro 2016 sees Poland play Portugal at the Stade Vélodrome in Marseille on Thursday evening with both teams confident they can get through to the semi-finals.

Previous game

In the last 16, Poland came up against Switzerland and after normal time the game finished 1-1. Jakub Błaszczykowski opened the scoring for the Poles before an overhead kick from Xherdan Shaqiri sent the game to extra time.

The game finally went to penalties and the only person to miss was Granit XhakaGrzegorz Krychowiak scored the winning penalty for Poland as they won the shootout 5-4 and made it through to their very first quarter-final at a European Championship.

Krychowiak scoring the winning penalty against Switzerland in the last round | Photo: Getty
Krychowiak scoring the winning penalty against Switzerland in the last round | Photo: Getty

Portugal, who had drawn all three of their group games, came up against Croatia who were very confident after topping their group.

The game was very poor with both teams cancelling each other out in normal time. Extra time though was much better with both teams trying to score.

Croatia though would have felt they done enough to win but the winning goal from Ricardo Quaresma came in the 117th minute to send Portugal through to yet another quarter-final at a major tournament.

Quaresma celebrating his late winner against Croatia | Photo: Getty
Quaresma celebrating his late winner against Croatia | Photo: Getty

Team news

Adam Nawałka will once again be without goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny who is still struggling with a thigh injury. Lukasz Fabianski is therefore set to start once again in goal for the Poles. Apart from that though Poland have everyone else available for the game but will need their main men up front to start firing in front of goal if they want to go all the way.

Fernando Santos has a full squad to choose from for this match and they will have had plenty of time to recover from their match against Croatia. There could be some changes though to the starting lineup with match winner against Croatia Quaresma hoping to come back into the starting line-up. Renato Sanches is another one who will be hoping for a start after impressing off the bench in the last match.

Key players

The key player for Poland is Robert Lewandowski even though he is yet to get off the mark at these championships. The reason for this is because he is that good that at any given time he can score a goal from nothing. Lewandowski even though he doesn't score, he does so much for the team in terms of creating chances for other teammates and he is the one player that the Portugal defence will have to make sure they stop or else they will get punished.

Cristiano Ronaldo will always be the key player for Portugal in every game that he plays for his country. Ronaldo has only managed the two goals so far in the tournament against Hungary but in the last game against Croatia, he created the assist for the winning goal. The Portugal captain will be really determined to get his team through this tough game so it would not be a surprise if he was to up his game for this crucial clash.

Likely Poland line-up: Fabianski, Piszczek, Glik, Pazdan, Jedrzejczyk, Blaszczykowski, Krychowiak, Maczynski, Grosicki, Milik, Lewandowski.

Likely Portugal line-up: Rui Patricio, Soares, Pepe, Fonte, Guerreiro, Joao Mario, Adrien Silva, Carvalho, Renato Sanches, Nani, Ronaldo.