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Euro 2016 team preview: Poland's realistic aim is the Round of 16

Group C: Germany | Ukraine | Poland | Northern Ireland

It seems remarkable that a country of Poland's size has reached the European Championship only twice and the last time, in 2012, was as co-hosts. They went out at the group stage both times but this year will be expected to reach the Round of 16 at minimum.

How they qualified: Second in Group D

Poland had a fine campaign and finished only a point short of winners Germany, whom they beat 2-0 in Warsaw. Their only defeat came in the return game, and they scored more goals -- 33 -- than any other team in qualifying, though 15 of them were plundered against Gibraltar.

How they'll proceed:

Germany and Ukraine are not ideal group opponents, but the Poland players know they can overcome either in a one-off match. They should be strong enough to take second place ahead of the Ukrainians, and that would probably hand them an impossible-to-call tie against Switzerland.

Poland struggled four years ago but have a strong claim to reach the knockout stages this time around.

Predicted lineup:

(4-2-3-1); GK: Lukasz Fabianski; DF: Lukasz Piszczek, Kamil Glik, Michal Pazdan, Jakub Wawrzyniak; MF: Grzegorz Krychowiak, Tomasz Jodlowiec, Jakub Blaszczykowski, Arkadiusz Milik, Kamil Grosicki; FW: Robert Lewandowski.

Key player: Robert Lewandowski

He could be the difference between a long run and a relatively early exit. Lewandowski was the top scorer in qualifying, with 13 goals, two more than his nearest rival, and an outstanding season with Bayern Munich could be the platform for him to help Poland surprise.

Manager: Adam Nawalka

The 58-year-old won 34 caps for Poland as a player in the late 1970s and went on to manage a number of big clubs, including Wisla Krakow and Gornik Zabrze, in the domestic league before taking the national team reins in 2013, when he succeeded Waldemar Fornalik.

Schedule:

June 12 vs. Northern Ireland (Noon p.m. ET/4 p.m. GMT; Stade de Nice, Nice)
-- LIVE on ESPN

June 16 vs. Germany (3 p.m. ET/7 p.m. GMT; Stade de France, Saint-Denis)
-- LIVE on ESPN

June 21 vs. Ukraine (Noon ET/4 p.m. GMT; Stade Velodrome, Marseille)
-- LIVE on ESPN2

Games are also LIVE on ESPN Deportes, ESPN FC, WatchESPN and the ESPN app.

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