The Euros have begun and there is a lot of action to talk about already. With the sides looking to play the final match at Wembley and return home with wide smiles and a piece of silverware, a few players could be the torch-bearers for their teams.
🇵🇱 Getting ready for Group E…
— UEFA Nations League (@EURO2024) June 10, 2021
The Euros present the perfect platform for fairytale stories to be weaved. For the legends to retain their title of kings and for new arrivals to learn strategies for a battle, the Euros are a complete package.
Paulo Sousa’s Polish army will look to exploit the form of Robert Lewandowski and turn out to be the dark-horses this summer. With exceptional talent present in their ranks, one player who could steal the limelight from Bayern Munich’s goal machine is 25-year-old Michal Helik.
The Barnsley youngster is in sublime form on the back-off of a marvellous Championship season and would once again look to sail Poland’s ship. With the stage set for Helik, FootTheBall takes a look at why the Polish defender could be a star for Sousa and is on the road for a glittering career?
WHO IS MICHAL HELIK?
Michal Helik, a 25-year-old towering defender leading the backline of Championship club Barnsley. With just 3 caps for his international outfit, Helik is yet to unlock his potential. The world first saw the Polish rock in 2013 when the Polish international played for domestic club Ruch Chorzow.
Kiedy na chwilę wstępuje w ciebie @Ibra_official… 😎
— PKO BP Ekstraklasa (@_Ekstraklasa_) September 9, 2020
Stable defending and smart-decision making earned him a call-up to Cracovia. Netting 9 goals and appearing almost 90 times for Cracovia, Helik guided his squad to the Polish Cup title. From Poland to England, Michal was soon donning the red Barnsley jersey. In 43 appearances this campaign the defender has five goals and two assists to his name.
Helik guided Barnsley to the semi-finals of the Championship Playoffs where they unfortunately faltered. But a defensive prodigy, with a knack for scoring pivotal goals, Helik has the capabilities of both Robert Lewandowski and Łukasz Piszczek. The star man was also voted the Fans’ Player of the Season owing to his jaw-dropping performances in England’s second division.
It’s difficult to predict Sousa’s strategy to coach the outfit in white and red, but if the star manager employs identical principles to his previous seasons as a manager the Eagles will most definitely start a 4-2-3-1. With the luxury of a striking monster in Robert Lewandowski leading the offensive lines, Sousa will emphasize defence. Two experienced campaigners Glik and Bednarek could be leading the side’s backline and Helik could easily sneak in a spot along with them.
Michał Helik on fire! 🔥 pic.twitter.com/AHMMKQbeTF
— Łączy nas piłka (@LaczyNasPilka) June 7, 2021
The ringmaster in the Championship, Helik effectively scored crucial goals for the Reds as and when required. An aerial threat, Helik always looks for the sweet spot scoring thunderous goals. When playing in Poland also, Helik would creep up the field and look for the perfect deliveries to score world-class goals.
When defending, Helik’s nothing short of a brick wall. He made an outstanding 5.3 clearances each game for 43 matches solidifying a young Barnsley defence. When playing for Poland, Helik would be the perfect under-study.
— Michał Helik (@michalhelik) March 18, 2021
Quick decision making and unimaginable defending, Helik could be pivotal for Poland’s success this Euros. The Eagles are placed in Group-E along with a revamped Spain and two challengers in Sweden and Slovakia. The Polish would look to at least finish second and if they produce positive results against a lacklustre Luis Enrique’s La Furia Roja, Sousa’s army could be leading the group table.
— Barnsley FC (@BarnsleyFC) May 15, 2021
They would bank on Lewandowski to score some majestic goals this summer but not letting the enemy invade them would be their biggest challenge. And to fill the bridge gap between youth and experience, Helik’s role in the squad becomes crucial. Stabilizing the Polish squad and restricting the enemy, Helik could be a defender to watch out for.
Sergio Ramos is the top-scoring defender in the history of football. With 23 rockets for his national outfit, Ramos currently leads the goal-scoring charts for a defender. But Helik could be right up there with the Los Blancos’ veteran.
— Sky Bet Championship (@SkyBetChamp) February 28, 2021
Along with his defensive qualities, the centre-back has the capacity of chipping in with crucial goals. Imagine a 90th-minute situation when Poland need a goal to snatch a victory from the jaws of defeat and the Eagles get a corner. Michal Helik would be the first man waiting in the box for the perfect delivery. An aerial monster, Helik scored 5 rockets this season which is not bad for a defender.
Wesołych Świąt 🇵🇱 🎅 pic.twitter.com/YKfJKzU4TZ
— Barnsley FC (@BarnsleyFC) December 26, 2020
Along with the fact that Helik is a world-class defender. With the tackling abilities, the instinctive nature, the street-smart decision making, and being a rock in front of the goal, Helik is Poland’s go-to-man in defence. Poland’s vulnerability to concede goals could hamper their progress but Helik will surely provide the much-needed sustainability in defence.
PREDICTIONS FOR EUROS
With the Eagles kicking off against Slovakia on the 14th of June Helik could rarely be seen in the starting eleven. Although a prodigy, Sousa could keep him as the joker of the pack. With Glik and Bednarek forming the perfect centre-back partnership, the 25-year-old will have to wait for the perfect opportunity to arrive.
Although if the Polish floodgates are left open for too long, Helik could be called to the rescue. With an ability to also score goals, Helik’s case has been bolstered. The Barnsley defender will just look for one opportunity to impress all the eyes watching him. If he scores a goal or defends like a wall even in one game, he could be regarded as Poland’s hero in no time.
IDEAL LANDING SPOT
A centre-back of Helik’s quality could walk into any team in the world. With just a handful of defenders possessing excellent goal-scoring ability, Helik’s armoury contains all the necessary weapons.
Although one team who could use his services to perfection is Brendan Rodger’s Leicester City. With the Foxes looking shaky in defence on several occasions, Helik’s inclusion could prevent them from throwing away Champions League spots.
Premier League 🏆
𝗙𝗔 𝗖𝘂𝗽 🏆
League Cup 🏆🏆🏆
The season we completed our domestic set is added to the Club's proud history.
— Leicester City (@LCFC) June 10, 2021
Wes Morgan, the captain of the Foxes has been the leading man in defence who sometimes chips in with goals. Morgan is leaving this summer and Wesley Fofana has been linked with a move away from the King Power, Helik could become Leicester’s latest smart recruit.
Scottish side, Celtic FC could be interested in bolstering their defence. Losing the title to arch-rivals Rangers, Celtic will be looking for revenge next campaign. A budget-buy, Helik can transform the situation at the club. With great defending skills, Michal Helik has proved himself in the Championship and Celtic would want to exploit the raw Polish talent.