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.
Comments are closed
MORE EUROPE BLOGS
1,026 articles | 12,643 comments
201 articles | 1,850 comments
196 articles | 325 comments
1,035 articles | 5,228 comments
687 articles | 5,278 comments
1,063 articles | 32,761 comments
2,566 articles | 6,694 comments
489 articles | 910 comments
562 articles | 9,643 comments
208 articles | 1,511 comments
347 articles | 3,327 comments
227 articles | 386 comments
272 articles | 452 comments
119 articles | 64,783 comments
237 articles | 217 comments
139 articles | 1,370 comments
129 articles | 124 comments
112 articles | 166 comments
16 articles | 8 comments
49 articles | 314 comments
78 articles | 281 comments
111 articles | 122 comments
72 articles | 149 comments
4 articles | 8 comments
49 articles | 59 comments
62 articles | 17 comments
52 articles | 112 comments
33 articles | 28 comments
18 articles | 20 comments
43 articles | 133 comments