Predictions were fulfilled quickly – Poland opened the tournament against West Germany and played boring football against equally boring reigning world champions to a scoreless tie.
The match against Tunisia was not to be a heavy task, or so was expected before the match started. Gmoch made only one change – Kasperczak was starter and Masztaler benched. Theoretically, this was to be the easiest match for Poland. Instead, it was nightmare – Poland launched steady speedy assault on Tunisian defense from the start, obviously wanting to overwhelm and crash the opposition. But the attacks were monotonous, unimaginative, and the Tunisian team quickly deciphered the limited Polish strategy, too simple to be really effective. Eventually, Poland scored.
The second half was different: Tunisia got the initiative and outplayed the Poles. There was one team on the pitch, but Poland was incredibly lucky: two shots met the goalposts. Another shot was desperately cleared from the goal line. Poland only tried to keep the result, unable for anything else. The strikers were particularly bad and Gmoch replaced both Lubanski and Szarmach, bringing Boniek and Iwan instead. Nothing good happened, except Poland managed to preserve the fragile lead to the end and clinched undeserved victory. Disappointed and worried Gmoch did not mince words after the match: 'We played badly. I am not accusing anybody personally – the whole team played poorly'.
Things were not going well – and Gmoch made few changes for the third match.
Against Mexico Rudy came instead of Maculewicz, Masztaler was back, and Szarmach and Lubanski were benched in favour of Boniek and Iwan. The attack was the biggest problem and Gmoch attempted radical reshaping, hoping that the youngsters may bring life to stagnated line. Alas, no real improvement. Luckily, Mexico was too weak against physically stronger opponents – parity was preserved to the end of the first half, when Boniek scored his first goal in the 42nd minute. In the second half the Mexicans equalized, but eventually Deyna and Boniek again scored two goals and Poland won 3-1.