Polonia Warsaw’s remarkable success this season has been driven by a number of players, the marauding left back/midfielder Adam Pazio, the dangerous Georgian international striker Vladimir Dvalishvili and the attacking full-back Tomasz Brzyski, but two players have really stood out. The first, Paweł Wszołek has already been written about on these pages
but alongside Wszołek this season has also seen the speedy development of Łukasz Teodorczyk, Polonia’s 21 year old talented target man. Teodorczyk and Wszołek have been at the centre of Polonia’s attack with both players scoring and providing assists. At times the two players seem to have a telepathic understanding of each other’s game, something that has developed through emerging from Polonia’s youth system together. This was clearly noticed by Polonia’s current manager Piotr Stokowiec who, until the summer, was in charge of the club’s youth team.
However while Wszołek has become a part of the national set-up (even starting against England last month) Teodorczyk has not gotten a call-up, with the Górnik Zabrze striker Arkadiusz Milik achieving the honour instead. Nonetheless, with Polish national team coach Waldermar Fornalik announcing his squad tomorrow for the friendly against Uruguay on November 14, Teodorczyk had a perfect opportunity tonight to make his claim for a call-up. Happily for himself and Polonia Teodorczyk took full advantage with a game-winning, man-of-the-match performance.
Standing in Polonia’s way at Konwiktorska were Korona Kielce a team sitting in mid-table before tonight’s fixture. Korona do not play a particularly attractive brand of football but they have achieved some decent results this season. Polonia on the other hand have been playing free-flowing, attacking football and, coming into the game, were the ekstraklasa’s second highest scorers having beaten GKS Belchatow 5-0 last Saturday. Most people expected Polonia to blow Korona away but beating the men from Kielce actually turned out to be a rather more difficult task for the black shirts of Polonia.
The first half was characterised by Korona denying Polonia the freedom which has characterised their play this season. Gone was Polonia’s high-tempo counter-attacking style, gone was their impressive movement. Instead what we saw was a turgid, slow-paced game with a surprising lack of chances created by the Varsovian hosts. At the heart of this lethargy was Wszołek. The normally barn-storming right-winger hardly had any of the ball and instead cut a forlorn figure. What chances that did come were created by the visitors from Kielce. It was a dire, stifling first half, with Polonia looking very different to the team we have become accustomed to. Had Korona found them out?
The second half started in a similar fashion with Polonia not really moving the ball quickly enough and Korona creating what little chances there were. Towards the middle of the half it became apparent that Polonia were upping the tempo a little bit. This could be most clearly seen via the runs on the left-hand side of Adam Pazio but also up front Dvalishvili and Teodorczyk started to see a bit more of the ball. In the 62nd minute Adam Pazio was set free on the left by a neat little flick from Wszołek. Pazio laid the ball into the middle for Teodorczyk who then cleverly held off his defender, turned and expertly lashed the ball into the net. 1-0! Finally Polonia had made the breakthrough and Teodorczyk had provided it.
As a result of the goal the game opened up and it finally became a spectacle worth watching. Wszołek started to get more of the ball and Korona had chances to get an equaliser. This was more like the Polonia which has enthralled us this season. A foul on Wszołek in the penalty area in the 83rd minute brought a chance to finish the game off. Unforunately Dvalishvilli’s kick was eventually saved and the rebound was somewhat wildly lashed against the bar by Brzyski. Korona still had a chance to equalise.
Their chance came in the 87th minute. After a knock-down in the area Michal Zielinski had a great opportunity to beat Sebastian Przyrowski in the Polonia goal. Przyrowski however threw himself at Zielinski’s shot and made a great block save. Przyrowski then quickly released the ball upfield and it eventually found its way to the feet of Teodorczyk just outside the Korona penalty area. This was where the magic started. Polonia’s striker somehow managed to wriggle past two defenders with some deft footwork and then as easy as you like planted the ball past Małkowski in the Korona goal. It was 2-0 and with Teodorczyk’s nifty bit of finishing the game was dead and buried.
So Polonia had come out on top 2-0 in a game in which they were definitely not at their best. Wszołek looked out of sorts and their fluency was way worse than it has been in recent weeks. They were saved by the performances of several players, Pazio, Dvalishvili and the superb finishing of Teodorczyk. Indeed, what better way of putting yourself in line for a call-up to the national team then a match winning performance the day before the squad is announced? We’ll see tomorrow if he gets in, I’m keeping my fingers crossed.