BOLOGNA, Italy. June 19 (PSN) – They did it again. For the second consecutive group stage match at the UEFA European Under-21 Championship, Poland has pulled off an upset by defeating an intercontinental giant. On Sunday it was Belgium and this time around the team waltzed into Bologna on Wednesday night and masterfully befuddled Italy to the tune of a 1:0 victory
Final score: Italy – Poland 0:1
The Poles were able to quell a powerful Italian attack comprised of future triple digit transfer value players, Federico Chiesa and Moise Kean, among other notable starlets. The home side owned possession of the ball 64% of the time and were routinely on the offensive, aiming to please their partisan fans. Despite firing a tournament record 31 shots (only five of which were on target), the heavily favoured Italian’s efforts rendered futile.
Poland’s star goalkeeper, Kamil Grabara, registered a wonderful performance and got some assistance with a VAR revoked goal by Riccard0 Orsolini and reveled in the sweet sound of woodwork being rattled after a cannonading strike from midfielder, Lorenzo Pellegrini. In spite of this perpetual onslaught, the Poles were foundationally sound throughout and ensured that the Italians were void of any clear cut chances near Grabara’s goal.
As is customary for a Poland side in this type of underdog predicament, the squad decided to take the counterattacking approach and rely on their skillful midfield to capitalize when afforded the chance. Their patience paid off in the 40th minute when strapping midfielder (or centreback, depending on the day), Krystian Bielik, put Poland up with a tantalizing left-footed strike following a blocked free kick attempt.
The Arsenal man has now scored in back-t0-back games and has imposed his will on his opposition in this tournament much like Kawhi Leonard did to his competition during the NBA Playoffs. Having such a formidable presence in the center of the pitch with the innate ability to make plays and produce on the highest stage is something no Polish squad (youth or senior) has had for decades.
The fact of the matter is that this team is very hard to beat. Although the likes of Szymon Zurkowski and Dawid Kownacki did not particularly stand out against the Italians, they, along with Bielik and Grabara, give Poland an incredibly robust nucleus that has propelled this youth team to new heights.
Next up for Poland is yet another daunting task of trying to take down Spain on Saturday evening. A win or tie would propel the squad to the tournament semi-finals, while a loss would likely require some help from Belgium in their final group match with Italy.
Something tells me that these boys aren’t done slaying just yet.
Italy – Poland 0:1 (0:1)
Goal: Bielik 40′
Yellow carded: Zaniolo – Dziczek, Kownacki, Buksa
Referee: Aleksiej Kulbakow (Białoruś) Attendance: 26 890
Italy: 22. Alex Meret – 15. Claud Adjapong (81, 8. Nicolò Zaniolo), 13. Gianluca Mancini, 6. Alessandro Bastoni, 12. Federico Dimarco – 18. Nicolò Barella, 10. Rolando Mandragora (57, 5. Sandro Tonali), 7. Lorenzo Pellegrini – 11. Riccardo Orsolini (46, 20. Moise Kean), 9. Patrick Cutrone, 14. Federico Chiesa
Poland: 1. Kamil Grabara – 21. Karol Fila, 4. Mateusz Wieteska, 5. Paweł Bochniewicz, 3. Kamil Pestka – 19. Filip Jagiełło (55, 23. Konrad Michalak), 6. Krystian Bielik, 16. Patryk Dziczek, 7. Szymon Żurkowski, 10. Sebastian Szymański – 9. Dawid Kownacki (76, 14. Adam Buksa)
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