It’s the international break so what better a time to look at how one of Poland’s foreign legion is doing. In a guest post Toke Theilade presents us with a post on Polish national squad striker Kamil Wilczek’s impressive recent form for Danish club Brøndby IF.
After losing the battle for Kamil Wilczek’s signature in the summer of 2015 when he moved to Carpi, Brøndby fans were excited when he finally joined the Danish giants in January last year. At the time the Yellow-Blues were fifth, and having only scored 27 goals in 18 games, it was almost painfully obvious that the team needed a new striker, despite boasting significant names such as Teemu Pukki and Johan Elmander up front.
Wilczek, who had failed to make an impact in Italy, dreamt of making Poland’s Euro 2016 squad, and to do that he needed regular playing time.
He got off to a good start, as he scored the winning goal in his debut against Hobro IK. However, one couldn’t help but be slightly disappointed with the new signing. Although it was clear that the new Polish striker had an eye for goal, and knew how to position himself, he looked out of shape, lazy and poor when on the ball.
Wilczek’s debut goal vs Hobro
Then, just two games into his Brøndby-career, head coach Thomas Frank resigned after chairman Jan Bech Andersen had publicly criticized him on an online fan forum.
With interim head coach Auri Skarbalius brought in from the youth department to finish the season, Wilczek was placed on the bench, and he began looking like another failed transfer by a club that has wasted hundreds of million kroner since winning the championship for the last time in 2005.
Despite the chaos that surrounded Frank’s resignation, Skarbalius slowly began getting things back on track, and while Brøndby didn’t play inspiring football, they began to win. After five games on the bench, Wilczek finally returned to the starting line-up in the 26th round of matches, when he scored twice as Brøndby defeated rivals AGF 2-1 at home. Once again, Wilczek had been almost invisible, but had stood in the right place twice.
He went to score two more goals in the 2015-6 season as Brøndby finished fourth and qualified for the Europa League.
Wilczek didn’t make Poland’s squad for Euro 2016, but his eye for goal had convinced the yellow-blue fans that he could be more successful than countryman Rafał Niżnik, who represented Brøndby between 1998 and 2005 without much luck.
Following the season, Skarbalius returned to the U19 team, and German Alexander Zorniger was hired. Under the mantra ‘action, action, action’, Zorniger introduced a new playing style which demanded a lot from the players, who were expected to constantly press their opponents, and to play fast and attacking football.
Considering Wilczek’s poor physical shape and lazy attitude during his first half-season with Brøndby, he looked like he’d not be one of the new coach’s favourites.
Wilczek however, was quick to prove the doubters wrong, and already in Zorniger’s first game as head coach, the Pole scored twice as Brøndby won 4-1 in Iceland against Valur in the Europa League qualification. A week later, he added another goal against the same opponents, and in the league, it only took him seven games to reach the five goals he had scored the previous season.
Wilczek scores two goals vs Valur
Together with Finnish international Pukki, he has formed one of the most lethal striking duos the Danish Superliga has seen in a long time, and the two clearly supplement each other well. While Pukki is the quicker and more agile of the two, Wilczek is always ready to pick up loose balls in the penalty area, and to exploit the mistakes Brøndby’s aggressive pressing has forced.
Furthermore, it became clear that Zorniger’s exhausting training sessions over the summer had paid off. Wilczek was transformed, and although he is still masters the art of tap-ins and easy goals, he now is also able to participate in the build-up and the pressing of opponents.
After years of poor performances and bad excuses, Brøndby are once again playing entertaining and successful football, and Wilczek is a major part of that. In August, he performed impressively as Brøndby delivered their best European result in more than a decade by beating German side Hertha Berlin 3-2 on aggregate.
In November, he finally got his debut on the Polish national team, earning him a place on Brøndby’s Wall of Honour alongside names such as Michael Laudrup, Peter Schmeichel, Daniel Agger, Michael Krohn-Dehli and many others, who had also played for their national teams while representing the Yellow-Blues.
26 games into the season, Brøndby are currently second in the league. If they manage to keep that spot, that would be the club’s best result since 2006, and things are looking good on this front. Last weekend, a hat-trick by Wilczek secured a 3-2 home victory vs third place Lyngby BK, who Brøndby are now 13 points ahead of with ten games left.
Wilczek’s recent hat-trick for Brøndby
Wilczek is currently the Danish Superliga’s third top scorer, scoring three less than his teammate Pukki, and while his early performances for the club were not the best, no one doubts the Pole any more.