Who’s Hot, Who’s Not? Defenders.
Today I’ll give my opinion on the defenders who have been called up by Leo in the last half a year or so. When you go through this analysis you’ll realize how huge problems we have in this department. It’s not only the usual left back position, but with the injury of Marcin Wasilewski and the unavoidable retirement of Michal Zewlakow we’re left stranded on other positions as well. If the saying that you start building the team from the back is correct then we’re left with a lot of construction work to do.
Marcin Wasilewski (Anderlecht Brussels, 32 yrs in 2012): first of all, it remains unknown whether Wasyl will be able to come back to professional football on a high level after the horrendous injury he suffered at the hands of Axel Witsel. He definitely won’t be a better player than he was before the accident (or a deliberate attack, your call). One of the first tasks of the new coach will be to find a permanent, and adequate, replacement for the Anderlecht right back. Wasyl will only return if he’s able to come back to shape and if we don’t have 2-3 better options by this time. He may be in the 2012 squad as a backup player and a positive influence on the teammates; you can question his skills, but you can never question his hard work and attitude.
Jakub Rzezniczak (Legia Warsaw, 26 yrs in 2012): hasn’t played in a serious national team game so far, but has been called up regularly by Leo in the last couple of months. He’s got a permanent place in Legia’s starting lineup. His ability to play on a serious international level remains unattested (games in the U21 and some UEFA Cup games for Legia, most rather unimpressive), though he had a serious offer from Socheaux in the summer, which in itself may be a proof of his capabilities. Considering our problems with a right back position he’s got a serious chance to compete for the 2012 spot, so far he’s been progressing steadily and therefore should be a better player in a three years time. I also think he’ll move abroad by then.
Michal Zewlakow (Olympiakos Pireus, 36 yrs in 2012): a great servant to the national team for the last ten years, but counting on him to lead our defense in 2012 would be one of the biggest mistakes that the new coach can make. He may have one or two good seasons left in him, but in the long run we can’t consider him a prospect for the Euros. The only question is how to say goodbye to a player that always gave his best in white and red. One option is to organize a testimonial match (possibly together with Krzyniu), another is to call him up for a couple of preparatory games as a mentor for the younger centre backs (though other players can play this role as well). I have a feeling we’ll see him as one of the TV experts during the Euros.
Tomasz Jodlowiec (Polonia Warsaw, 27 yrs in 2012): one of the best centre backs in the Ekstraklasa that everybody around is praising and waiting to see succeeding at a bigger club. A rare defender in Poland as he feels good with the ball at his feet. Had offers from Napoli and Sunderland, but didn’t feel ready to leave Poland. I don’t know what else he can learn here, this should be his last season in Polonia jersey. The fact is that he hasn’t really played against a good, European opponent in his career which in the long run can prove decisive when choosing the squad for 2012. Nevertheless, he’s one of the players that will surely get an extensive run in the preparatory games.
Dariusz Dudka (AJ Auxerre, 29 yrs in 2012): we all know what Darek Dudka is capable of, he’s one of the most mistake prone defenders in our squad. On the other hand, he usually rises to the occasion if the whole team performs well. In 2012 he’ll be one of our most experienced players with two major tournaments under his belt. Don’t get me wrong, I’d happily replace Dudka with a better player, but at the moment I can’t see any central defender playing regularly in a respected league that could take his place. Hell, even Dudka himself has been stuck on Auxerre’s bench for the last couple of weeks. Nevertheless, I have an impression that we’ll see a lot of Darek in the preparatory games, let’s only pray that some other centre back will explode with talent in the next three years.
Bartosz Bosacki (Lech Poznan, 37 yrs in 2012): the hero of the game against Costa Rica has only been a temporary choice during the current qualifying campaign (after Jacek Bak retired and none of the younger players were picked by Leo). He has one or two seasons for Lech left in him, but I can’t imagine the new national team coach picking him for the preparatory games, he’s just too old and won’t get any better. That should be the end of Bosy’s international career.
Piotr Polczak (Cracovia, 26 yrs in 2012): Polczak impressed everybody in the 2007/08 season, but hasn’t been progressing very rapidly since then. I think he won’t develop much playing middle-of-the-table football at Cracovia, though that may change with the mentor manager Orest Lenczyk taking over at the Krakow club lately. Polczak is very well built, even for a central defender, but he lacks a bit of speed and agility. He needs to move to a top Polish club or abroad next season, somewhere he’ll be exposed to international football. A call up from Stefan Majewski is on the cards for Polczak as our temporary coach is the one who brought him to the Ekstraklasa and is a big fan of his skills. In our current situation the Cracovia defender has to be considered a 2012 prospect.
Marcin Komorowski (Legia Warsaw, 28 yrs in 2012): I think he was called up by Leo only because he’s a naturally left footed player. He’s not even a starter for Legia, before moving to Warsaw he’s never played for a serious club before (LKS Lodz, Zaglebie Sosnowiec or Polonia Bytom). To be honest, he’s struggling for a place in the starting lineup anywhere he plays. I can’t see much chance for progress in his game, he should already be a developed player. Counting on him with Euro 2012 in perspective would mean that we’re really in deep trouble on the left back position.
Seweryn Gancarczyk (Lech Poznan, 31 yrs in 2012): with a lack of better options we should stick to Gancarczyk at the left back for the time being. He’s a naturally left footed player, played as a left back throughout most of his career and is usually one of the best performers on the pitch for Lech (he was the best Kolejorz player in the Club Brugge matchup). Quite good on the ball, always plays with a lot of ambition, though he sometimes has problems with defensive positioning. Maybe he’s not the left back we’re all dreaming about, but I prefer him to wild ideas like Krzynowek or Komorowski. The next year should be his in the national team.
Pawel Golanski (Steaua Bucharest, 30 yrs in 2012): a player that’s always somewhere near the national team, though he’s never won a permanent place in the starting lineup. That may be due to his fitness problems, he tend to injure himself anytime he has an opportunity to do that (he’s currently injured of course). It’s hard to say anything about his usual form as no one watches the Romanian league in Poland. Sometimes the reports say that he’s the best right back in Romania, sometimes I read articles that Steaua’s president wants to desperately get rid of him. Each transfer window there is a talk of him moving to a Western league (once even FC Porto was mentioned), but none of those virtual offers materialized. I think Golanski will always be just a backup option, but a one that the coach will have to keep an eye on.
Jakub Wawrzyniak (Legia Warsaw, 29 yrs in 2012): first of all, Wawrzyniak is currently suspended with the ban possible to be as long as two years. If it proves shorter, he will play for Legia next year and shouldn’t have problems to win a place in the starting lineup. He already has some national team games to his name, but I can’t remember a single one where he really impressed. I was hoping that the move to Panathinaikos will help him develop, but we all know how his Greek adventure ended. He can only be considered as a candidate for the 2012 tournament due to our poverty at the left back position. I really hope we won’t be that desperate.
You’re probably asking yourself about younger prospects right now. When you look at the Polish league, the best defenders are usually foreigners (Arboleda, Astiz, Choto, Marcelo) or they’re already too old (Glowacki, Bosacki). Kamil Glik (Piast Gliwice) is the best right back in our U21, Jaroslaw Fojut has recently recovered from an injury for Slask Wroclaw and may still develop into a decent player. Adam Kokoszka (Empoli), Blazej Augustyn (Catania) and Marcin Kowalczyk (Dynamo Moscow) are earning their living abroad with mixed luck. It may all come down to asking Laurent Loscielny or Damien Perquis for help if we really want to have a strong backline in 2012.
We definitely have huge problems in defense, although I’m not too worried about the centre-back situation.
First up, JODLOWIEC. He’s been on the fringe of the NT for a while now, time for him to get a real chance.
Kamil GLIK also deserves a chance, he’s impressing for the U-21 team.
Our other U-21 centre-back is Maciej SADLOK who plays regularly for Ruch Chorzow.
Zamilski’s favored back-up appears to be Mateusz SIEBERT. Siebert had a rough start at Arka Gdynia but impressed a lot in their last match and should get regular playing time from now on.
Adam KOKOSZKA seems to have won back his place in Empoli’s starting 11. But does he have the potential to one day advance to Serie A?
Blazej AUGUSTYN is unlikely to feature this season after his disastrous league debut… But it would be wrong to write him off, he was reportedly one of Catania’s best players in pre-season. I think he’ll get another chance at Catania, but it’ll probably be next season.
Tomasz WELNICKI is a 19 year old CB who appeared on the bench for Nurnberg this weekend against Bayern Munich. As with Augustyn, Welnicki’s unlikely to get any playing time this season but we should keep tabs on his progress.
We don’t have many prospects at LB and RB which is really worrying. I suppose RZEZNICZAK should get a chance. Our U-21 regulars, Marek Gancarczyk (RB) and Adam Marciniak (LB) are both benchwarmers for Gornik in the second division… Due to lack of any rising talents, I imagine we’ll have to continue with Seweryn Gancarczyk and Golanski/Wasilewski for the time being.
Wenger has confirmed that Szczesny will make his Arsenal debut tomorrow in the Carling Cup!
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Yeah, I forgot about Sadlok, from what I’ve seen he’s got the right potential. Legia was massively interested in him in the summer, but the deal fell through. I think he’ll move next year as Ruch is a club which is always in need of money. Siebert received some bad press after his first performances, I haven’t seen him enough to make a judgement. The U21 full backs are nowhere near the international level. I think Marcin Kowalczyk should get another chance, Russian league is far better than Polish and he’s managed to keep his place in the starting lineup there for 1,5 years now. It’s a shame Krzysztof Krol isn’t developing as expected, I thought he had the pace and, most importantly, is left footed. He was recently sent to Jagiellonia’s reserves for criticizing the coaching staff, there’s something wrong with his head. And as for left backs, Piotr Brozek ought to be finally tested. I know he may be not good enough defensively, but hey, he’s the best Pole on this position in the Ekstraklasa.
Kowalczyk wasn’t very impressive in his outings for the NT but he probably deserves another chance (Kuba was also pretty bad in his first couple matches). However he does tend to collect a lot of yellow cards…
I’m really surprised about Krol, he seemed to be doing well last season. Beenhakker mentioned that he was keeping tabs on him and there was talk of Atalanta Bergamo being interested in him during the summer transfer window. Yet he’s only started two games this season and now reserves? Really disappointing.
Siebert made the “team of the week”
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