Once the friendly with Poland was announced I enlisted my friend Michal (who helped with the Polish League Preview) to write his thoughts on the Polish side for the upcoming friendly. Thanks Michal! (The full squad list for Poland is at the bottom of the post)
The upcoming match against Canada will be the second game on the national team level for the new Poland’s coach Franciszek Smuda. His team will play the first match a few days earlier, against Romania. Smuda has been known as a great motivator and his teams have always played attractive, offensive football regardless of who they were facing. He has had some successes coaching the best Polish club teams (Widzew Lodz, Legia Warsaw, Wisla Cracow and just recently Lech Poznan), especially doing well with them in the European cups. Last season he led Lech in the UEFA Cup to advance from the group stage and in the end to lose to Udinese by conceding a late goal in the second leg game. In the group phase Lech with Smuda played against Deportivo La Coruna (1:1). Julian de Guzman played in that match, so now he’ll be back in Poland and again facing Smuda’s team. To make things interesting, another Canadian player, Michael Klukowski, who was born in Poland, also played against Lech in the Europa Cup, early this season.
What are the strengths of the Polish team?
In theory, it is the offense. Poland has some talented offensive midfielders: Jakub Blaszczykowski (Borussia Dortmund), Sławomir Peszko (Lech Poznan), Kamil Kosowski (APOEL Nikozja), Ludovic Obraniak (Lille OSC) and Roger Guerreiro (AEK Ateny). Obraniak has made an appearance for the France U-21 national team a few years ago, however due to having Polish roots through his grandfather and his desire to reconnect with his heritage, he was officially called up for the Poland’s senior team by Leo Beenhakker for the friendly against Greece this year in… Bydgoszcz, where he scored the only two goals in the match.
Three forwards are in the squad for the friendlies: Poland U-21 starlet Patryk Malecki (Wisla Cracow), Lech Poznan’s best player Robert Lewandowski and speedy Ireneusz Jelen (AJ Auxerre).
In the goal we will see either the third Manchester United’s goalie, Tomasz Kuszczak, or the fourth Arsenal’s goalkeeper, 19-year old Wojciech Szczesny. Artur Boruc wasn’t called up, but Smuda says that he will get a chance in the future games. Another controversial decision made by the Polish coach was to not call the Poland’s captain Mariusz Lewandowski from Shakhtar Donetsk who simply didn’t earn Smuda’s trust. Two other first squad players that initially got called up for the coming games are injured. These are the last season Polish Ekstraklasa top scorer Pawel Brozek from Wisla Cracow and a defensive midfielder Rafal Murawski from Rubin Kazan. Right back Marcin Wasilewski has been recovering from his (Eduardo da Silva style) broken leg injury and missed a few recent Poland’s games. Ebi Smolarek is currently without a club and this is the reason (for Smuda) he will not play for Poland in the coming games.
What can we expect to happen in Bydgoszcz on November 18?
Poland will try to play offensively and I see Canada’s chances in counterattacks. Polish defence hasn’t performed well recently and mostly this formation was blamed for conceding key goals in the World Cup qualifiers. As Poland didn’t make it to the tournament in South Africa, their next competitive game will be played during Euro 2012, which Poland is hosting along with Ukraine. This means two and a half years of experimenting with the squad, tactics and playing friendly matches only. If Smuda decides to play experienced players against Romania and put younger players against Canada, we could see a more open game in Bydgoszcz and more chances for goals for Canada. If Tomasz Radzinski plays in that game, he’ll probably be very willing to score a goal, as the venue will feel like home for him. He was born in Inowroclaw which is located just about 40 km southeast of Bydgoszcz…
Tomasz Kuszczak, 27 years old (currently at Manchester United)
Wojciech Szczesny, 19 (Arsenal London)
Marcin Kowalczyk, 24 (Dynamo Moscow)
Jakub Rzezniczak, 23 (Legia Warsaw)
Michal Zewlakow, 33 (Olympiacos Piraeus)
Maciej Sadlok, 20 (Ruch Chorzow)
Adam Kokoszka, 23 (Empoli FC)
Piotr Brozek, 26 (Wisla Cracow)
Seweryn Gancarczyk, 27 (Lech Poznan)
Kamil Glik, 21 (Piast Gliwice)
Jakub Blaszczykowski, 23 (Borussia Dortmund)
Slawomir Peszko, 24 (Lech Poznan)
Dariusz Dudka, 25 (AJ Auxerre)
Radoslaw Majewski, 22 (Nottingham Forest)
Janusz Gancarczyk, 25 (Slask Wroclaw)
Kamil Kosowski, 32 (APOEL Nicosia)
Ludovic Obraniak, 25 (Lille OSC)
Roger Guerreiro, 27 (AEK Athens)
Maciej Rybus, 20 (Legia Warsaw)
Robert Lewandowski, 21 (Lech Poznan)
Ireneusz Jelen, 28 (AJ Auxerre)
Patryk Malecki, 21 (Wisla Cracow)