Poland-Northern Ireland 1:1. Goodbye To Africa?
It’s always hard to write anything after a game like that, especially that I still feel the hangover caused by it. I’ll be honest with you, of course I’m not jumping with joy, but at the same time I’m not so enraged or ashamed as after the game in Belfast. The Czech Republic game aside, we’ve been playing horribly for the last year and a half. The result can’t be viewed as a huge surprise, the level of yesterday’s performance was just the one we’re capable of at the moment.
Poland-Northern Ireland 1:1 (Lafferty 38′- M.Lewandowski 80′)
Poland: Artur Boruc – Paweł Golanski, Michal Zewlakow, Dariusz Dudka, Jacek Krzynowek – Jakub Blaszczykowski, Mariusz Lewandowski, Rafal Murawski (61. Robert Lewandowski), Roger Guerreiro, Ludovic Obraniak (46. Euzebiusz Smolarek) – Pawel Brozek
Analysis: I won’t describe in detail how the game looked like since, judging from the comments under the last post, most of you watched it yesterday. The interesting question to answer is why did we fail to win the match? First of all, we were too slow. The tempo of our play wasn’t fast enough, we passed the ball so slowly that the Irish were able to cover all the free areas. The idea for this game was to exchange one touch passes outside the box and win a position to shoot in this fashion. The Irish defenders quickly realised that (or they knew it all along) and anticipated most of our plays easily. The second problem was the absence of dribbles and losing individual duels by the players. Our wingers and attackers were unable to get past defenders when one on one. Jakub Blaszczykowski lost the ball on every occassion, Ludovic Obraniak is not a dribbler, he tended to play more in the middle rather than on the wing. Pawel Brozek just waited for the ball in the box, he didn’t look for free space, he always played with a defender on his back, couldn’t lose them. Another reason for our failure was the insufficient number of attacking players in the Irish box. Once Robert Lewandowski was brought on the pitch the game looked much better for us as the midfielders had more options to pass the ball. At the same time Lewy brought at least a small portion of physical presence to our side. Roger was able to drop a bit deeper at this moment and finally play some opening passes he’s expected to deliver. I think that playing with two strikers, at least for 45 minutes, could’ve been a key to success in this game. Next thing on the list is our central defenders’ inability to deal with Irish strikers. David Healy and especially Kyle Lafferty had no problems to keep possession, run at our defenders or just wait for the midfield to help them. More pressure should’ve been put on them, even if it meant an occassional foul. Zewlakow gave Lafferty far too much space during the first half, a mistake we paid for in the 38th minute. Finally, some players in the first half weren’t sufficiently involved in the game. Rafal Murawski was absent, which left us with Mariusz Lewandowski to act as a playmaker, a role he’ll never realise satisfactory. Pawel Brozek also hid behind the defenders backs throughout most of the first half, he should’ve played the way the young Lewy did after entering the pitch. All in all, there were too many shortcomings in our play to break through the Irish defense. Of course, we could’ve won this game, but we could’ve lost it just as easily. A draw feels a fair result.
Player notes (1-10):
Artur Boruc 6: saved everything he was supposed to save. Very alive, great run outside the box after a too weak pass from Lewy. One minor mistake when he parried the ball towards the centre of our penalty box after one of the crosses.
Pawel Golanski 4: neither a positive, nor a negative role in the game. Lack of spark when going forward.
Michal Zewlakow 3: couldn’t find a way to deal with Lafferty, slower than his opponent.
Dariusz Dudka 3: followed Zewlak’s example, should’ve outrun the Irish strikers for the ball more often.
Jacek Krzynowek 3: didn’t come back fast enough when Lafferty scored. Two or three good runs forward (Obraniak had his shot cleared from the line after one of them), but usually ineffective. Had the match ball for the win, but had to shoot with his right foot.
Rafal Murawski 3: should ask for the ball more often when Lewy had it. Should move more, be available for the ball at each moment, be this extra player on the flanks or in the box. Didn’t leave his mark on the game.
Mariusz Lewandowski 5: too slow in the first half, expected the game to be won by itself. Showed more character in the second half, brought the ball forward, scored a goal.
Jakub Blaszczykowski 3: not a single successful dribble, cross or shot. Resigned to run at defenders in the closing 20 minutes, gave the ball to others, couldn’t handle the responsibility.
Ludovic Obraniak 5: didn’t lose possession, but didn’t pass the ball forward at the same time. He’s more a midfielder than a winger. Nevertheless, always dangerous, had one shot cleared off the line and one nice free kick. Should’ve stayed on the pitch longer and replace Murawski in the middle.
Roger Guerreiro 5: for every good pass there are a couple of turnovers. Gave Brozek his best opportunity to score in the first half. Played very well in the closing stages of the game when he dropped back for the ball. Couldn’t handle the pressing in the first half.
Pawel Brozek 4: absent throughout most of the first half. Better after the break when he made himself available for passes and played more with his face towards the goal. Had an assist.
Ebi Smolarek 4: played tactically better than Obraniak (runs into the box), but wasn’t as effective.
Robert Lewandowski 5: gave the team what they needed, that is a player who’s able to fight for his position in the box. Key pass to Brozek for our goal.
- we have to win the three remaining games in order to at least achieve the play off spot
- the team loses most of its creativity and surprise factor without Kuba’s input
- Michal Zewlakow won’t be any faster
- Jacek Krzynowek is not a remedy for our left back problems (though I don’t agree that he’s the biggest problem of this team)
- Ludo Obraniak is not a typical, fast as a wind winger. He feels better in the middle of the field.
- more movement is needed from Roger and Brozek
- our bench is very poor. There was no third player to be brought on and improve our performance (Sagan? Lobodzinski? Tralka???)
- Mariusz Lewandowski should only shoot when the situation really asks him to do it, not everytime he feels like it
- the idea to switch to 4-4-2 fro some parts of the game is a god one
- Muras needs to start playing regularly
- Ebi needs a club
I’m slowly coming to terms with the idea that the next year’s World Cup won’t be an emotional event for me. This is the current state of Polish football, we can’t act surprised about it. Though the perspective of two and a half years without a competetive game really scares me.
For full highlights click here.
PS: Nice gesture for Wasyl during the national anthems.
At home in front of 50000 fans we should be able to fight and win with better teams than NI. I would like to mention 2 things:
1. For me it looks like DuchMan lost his passion. Why we all the time play just with 1 forwards? Very important,last 4 games,we have to win,home loud supporters and we play NI…not enough players in front.
2. I dont see other players to come and replace current onec.I agree,Zewlakow is getting slow and Dudka….no comments but i dont see other 2 central def. who are better now or will be better next year. Sad thing is,that you can say the same about every positon.
Posted from United Kingdom
I said it a million times Laurent Koscielny can play CB. He is already one of the best CB in League 1 and its only his first year in it. That other Frenchie Damien Perquis is also a good CB according to Ludo. Laurent is about to turn 24 and Damien 25 so they’re both young. Zewlakow and Krzynowek are the last 2 left on the team that were in world cup 2002. They’ve been around long enough and are losing their speed(Zewlakow) and accuracy(Krzynowek). Maybe Jacek still has something to contribute but definately not in LB position.
I don’t know why Dudka usually gets a bad rap on this blog. He was impressive overall yesterday and worked really hard especially when he saved Boruc’s ass! Boruc just lay there like a log after that save, didn’t scramble for the ball and Dudka cleared it out of there just in time..
I thought Golanski handled the ball well too.
Would have really liked to see Gancarczyk played!
I was upset when Leo took Obraniak out, but I did see him get hurt a few times and perhaps Leo was protecting him for the other qualifiers..
He should definitely play in the middle next time.
Krzynowek still has some good things to offer, don’t rule him out yet.
Zewlakow was defintely not fast enough though. Ebi, Roger and R. Lewy seem to have gotten their “game” back.
Was surprisingly disappointed by Kuba, but it looks like the NI coach set his dogs after him in particular and one guy can only do so much against a gang effort.
Wish Jelen was back..
Posted from United States
Dudka’s marking and positioning was poor. Half of his tackles gave NI a free kick.Time to time he is a bit slopy and makes simple mistakes and playing as CB you cannot afford that. Dudka is most efficient playing def. mid. ,he have to play as CB becouse no another option.We must qulify to WC2010 ,if we want players from other countries play for us.Without it we cannot offer them much!!! I hope koscielny,Perquis and that wonder kid kolodziejczak will decide to play for their grandparents country.
Posted from United Kingdom
It turns out Blaszczykowski was injured in training before the match against N.Ireland, that explains his unusually poor performance:
The question that has to be asked: why even bother calling up Lobodzinski if he’s not good enough to fill in? Why not call up Piszczek, Peszko, or Malecki? Piszczek should definitely be in the squad, he impressed against Werder Bremen recently which is more than can be said for Lobodzinski who can’t even impress against Ekstraklasa sides….
Posted from United States
SD, I’m not sure about Perquis.. Sochaux fans are not imrpessed with his performances. Still, I guess he can’t be worse than Dudka…
Koscielny is definitely someone we should be after, he always gets good marks from the French papers and Lorient fans are even saying that someday he may receive a callup to the French team. That’s why he’s apparently hesitating:
Posted from United States
Well, Perquis, Koscielny and Kolodziejczak don’t have Polish citizenship so it’s hard to consider them in terms of the national team at the moment. Maybe at least one of them will be available next year, Perquis has already put in some papers, he’s being helped by Tadeusz Fogiel, the same guy who encouraged Obraniak to fight for the citizenship. Zewlak and Bosacki will probably end their international careers after the current qualifications. Dudka should be available till 2012. Jodlowiec is considered a possible replacement, but he’s yet to play in a serious international game, both for the club and national team. Kamil Glik is the biggest prospect in our U-21, he supposedly played quite well against Spain last weekend (that’s what I found on Wojciech Kowalczyk’s blog, I haven’t seen the game). It’s shame Adam Kokoszka’s career is not developing the way it was expected, he had a good start at Empoli, but now is only a backup player.
I maybe a bit slow on this one but for the first time I read something interesting about the runners up play off. I knew that the best 8 play off in 4 games and that 1 will miss out but what I did not know was that they calculate the total score by misusing the points you get from the lowest team in your pool. As I said I may be the last to know this and thicker then a mc Donald’s milk shake but that would mean at this point Poland has 11 points – the 6 against San Marino and a total of 5 points 2 lower then Hungary the current lowest place team on seven. F*ck this just gets even harder. But I will still be at the polish club with a tyskie in balham on Wednesday. Go Polska
I actually think that Roger takes the best corners by a lang way, everyone else missiles them over the box. Roger whips them in just above head hight towards the front post which makes it very difficult to defend against. Obraniak should take all the direct free kicks and not Let Baldy or Krzynowek have them. Smolarek should start on the left and Obraniak in the middle. Our defenders are shit all of them, so why have 4 shit players on the team? I’d much rather play a 3-5-2 pack the midfield which is where we have the most talent and use the strategy attack is the best form of defence, because lets face it for us defence is the worst form of defence.
Posted from Greece
Our defense is pretty shaky at the moment.
I do believe Obraniak had to have gotten hurt in the match. I can’t remember the specific play anymore but it was around the 40th minute and clutched at it a few times and just didn’t seem like he could cut effectively afterward. Most likely a minor ankle sprain or contusion, definitely something that can get healed up in time for Wednesday.
We need 9 points, no other way around it, if we want to control our fate. Even then we have to hope for Slovakia slips up somewhere and NI has draws instead of wins. I’m still surprised Slovakia has been ahead of this group this whole time, I really thought it would be a duke out between us and Czech with NI spoiling the fun here and there.
9 points and we should grab one of the runner up matches.
Doesn’t Kuba take the corners for his team? Anyway 3-5-2 maybe be worth a try but not while Leo’s coach. He just loves the lone striker and didn’t even consider 2 strikers till second half against a known defensive team.
Ludo chose Poland over Frenace b/c he knew he would get little playing time, maybe Laurent will see the light as well. I mean he has to compete with the likes of Gallas and Escude but both are 32 and 30 respectively. Maybe he has a chance but he has a guarenteed spot on Polska. Man it would have been awesome if we had Filipe Luís Kasmirski, he’s a left wingback. Too bad that gay Dunga called him up but left him on the bench the whole time. Barca wanted to sign him and as a wingback he is a offensive minded player but one who realises he needs to still defend unlike Jacek…
if u want to play 3-5-2,u have to have great CB,fast,good tech. skills,who doesnt make mistakes.You have to have great wingers,who can run from one box to another.You have to have players with great tech. skills,who can hold the ball.That would be very attak minded formation and i dont think we have got players able to play that kind of game.Spain,brazil,italy…not poland.
its not so easy to swap between formations.
Posted from United Kingdom
I think that formation would leave them a little too exposed due to the reasons stated above. There seems to be a disconnect with what Leo expects from the guys and what they are actually doing. Leo wants to control the midfield. Somehow our guys are not getting the strategy/their roles and that is why they look clueless out there, they get caught out of position a lot.
A little off topic but I think Bald Lewandowski (I like that nickname by the way) should be tried out at the CB position. I’m not sure you experiment in the qualifiers but in a friendly or something. I see his skills and presence more suited for a defensive role only. When I see him in the midfield I get nervous.
Now they have to take care of business on the road. No more talk of luck being on their side. You make your own luck. As the saying goes, “you have be good to be lucky and lucky to be good.”
If we win all the remaining games, or even win 2 and draw 1, I think we will at least get a chance for a playoff, then anything can happen. Next game is a must win for sure.
Filipe Luís Kasmirski was called up by Brazil for their friendly with Estonia but did not leave the bench, so officially he has not been capped by Brazil. I read somewhere that he is eligible to play for Poland through his father Moisés Kasmirski. Has the PZPN contacted him about playing for us?
Does anybody know if his paperwork is in order and does he have any interest in playing for Poland. He would definitely be in the starting 11.
Poland’s basketball team just beat Lithuania, one of the best teams of Europe, while the Polish volleyball team defeated the European champions Spain. But their football team can’t get past Northern Ireland.
What the ass people… What the ass…
Posted from Netherlands
Anyone have a phone number for Leo to make sure Obraniak starts in the middle tomorrow?
(Also mention that Malecki would work well with Brozek..)
Peszko and Piszczek also look good..
Posted from Canada
On a brighter note, the U-21 side won 2-1 against Finland. Didn’t see the game, but Poland scored first, and after giving up the lead scored within five minutes to get it back. If only the senior team could play with a lead as opposed to trailing. Sometimes it seems like they don’t really play until they’re losing, and then they try to force the issue. Good luck tomorrow, I’m hoping for a convincing win.
JZ, Kasmirski says he’d rather play for Brazil as his ancestral ties to Poland are pretty distant (great-grandfather or something like that).
Posted from Canada
Damn even Beenie is starting to get worried over our situation now http://www.polishsoca.com/newswire/national-team/1849-beenhakkers-job-on-the-line-with-slovenia
Kasmirski said if Poland qualified for the World Cup then he’d play for us but that was before he got the Brazil callup and was anxious to play for national teams. Not sure if he still intrested now with that terrible performance on Saturday. I heard that Koscielny is now also going to hold off to see if France will call him up. Poland better make another impressive win like 10-0 San Marino and maybe they’d get intrested for Poland again. Honestly this NT is like a roller coaster which teerible performance followed right by great ones. We need a little quality control.
I just looked at the standings and Poland is in pretty golden position to at least take the 2nd spot. It is just a matter of whether or not it will be the last 2nd spot.
They will most likely own the tie breaker against both N. I. and Slovenia. You almost rather have a slovakia win rather then an Irish win if you can’t get the tie. I am almost positive that if Poland gets a win against Slovenia, than 3 more points will be enough to wrap up second place.
The best thing that can happen is for Ireland to lose tonight, and us to win, that way when its our turn to play Slovakia they would already have qualified and they might not try so hard and Czech republic would have nothing to play for.
6 Months ago I was defending Beenhaker, but if he plays with one up front tonight then I’d be the one to put my foot up his ass
Posted from Greece
Though to be fair the Polish national basketball team has a world class player, and the Polish volleyball team always belonged to the top teams.
THe football team really, really need a world class player.
Posted from Netherlands
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