It was not a good World Cup for Poland by any stretch of the imagination. But was it as bad as everyone has said? How did individual players perform in Russia and what does the future hold for the Polish extended squad? New to the blog, Wojtek Górski gives us a player run-down.
1. Szczęsny – didn’t give the team anything extra. Prefer Fabiański.
2. Fabiański – exuded confidence and maturity on and off the pitch. Very likeable. For me, the one to start with from now on.
3. Piszczek – Had a very poor tournament by his standards but still a top player and by far the best right-back we’ve had in the last 30 years.
4. Pazdan – exposed against Colombia in terms of not being able to distribute from the back as a left-sided centre-back. Didn’t do well in that role. Defensively he was still decent with some glimpses of class. Bednarek’s talent promises so much more though so I can see him being ousted in the upcoming games. Will remain an important squad player.
5. Bednarek – great potential, technically very good, can score a goal, big, strong, decent pace and agility for his size. Defensively still a liability though and needs a lot of protection from Glik. Arguably should now oust Pazdan but shouldn’t take anything for granted as he’s got a long way to go to be a top centre-back. He can be one though.
6. Glik – seeing how poor defensively we were in the World Cup, Glik appears to be the most important player after Lewandowski at the moment. Should be made the second captain after Lewy.
7. Rybus – has got good pace but I feel like he was a bit exposed at this level as well as lacking composure on the ball and didn’t quite nail down his defensive left-back role. His pace was and will remain very useful though.
8. Błaszczykowski – played a decent game against Senegal but how many more injuries can he and we take? I still believe he can bounce back from that, a true fighter and an inspirational player.
9. Krychowiak – needs to really pull his finger out. His stock fell dramatically. Still a very important player for Poland, irreplaceable really. He can be so so much better though.
10. Góralski – exposed at this level. Can’t see us relying on him and achieving anything other than just a qualification for a tournament. Very poor offensively and just too basic. Wouldn’t write him off completely though.
11. Grosicki – he can still do it, I believe in him. Needs to find hunger though, like he did two or three years ago. Worry is that playing for Hull doesn’t motivate him. Think he played well against Senegal and Japan.
12. Zieliński – a class player. Can make a difference. Just keep believing in him and he will come good. Needs more threat around him as if he’s tightly marked he lacks a turn of pace to make an impact. Nurture him though and he will come good. Even those who don’t rate him have to admit that he is the only Polish creative midfielder who promises something special. Had some good spells at this World Cup just not enough of them.
13. Lewandowski – very good games against Colombia and Senegal but too isolated which wasn’t his fault. Still a potential all time great for Poland. Keep on striving for that, Lewy. Hunger for success (or lack thereof) will be crucial for how much more he can give Poland from now on. Really hope he can remain motivated.
14. Kurzawa – looked very good against Japan. Keep calling him up, a valuable option off the bench.
15. Cionek – stop calling him up, not good enough at this level.
16. Linetty – keep calling him up, he will come good at some point. Not playing a minute in two tournaments is not a problem for me as he clearly knows Nawalka believes in him.
17. Bereszyński – keep calling him up, has done a good job when called upon. Not in Piszczek’s bracket but he is now a Premier League standard right-back.
18. Jędrzejczyk – always looks good for Poland. Should remain a squad player.
19. Milik – has a potentially match winning (at any level) left foot in his bag but is he aggressive enough for someone his size? Is his awareness/positioning top notch? I still have very high hopes for him but the worry that he will never again be what he used to be before his injuries.
20. Teodorczyk – Lacks physical strength and ability to engage in link-up play but has a very good instinct for goals in the box. Can’t see how he can contribute for Poland unless we rest Lewy. His form tends to fluctuate as well so can’t be always relied on. Will continue getting call-ups though.
21. Kownacki – a tough one to predict. Lack of physical strength is still a problem. Is he mentally up to being a top player? Not starting majority of games for Sampdoria is a problem and a sign of his current level. Definitely someone worth investing in as he is still very young. I could see his talent exploding next season after this experience with Poland but needs to start starting all games for his club.
Players discarded from the extended squad before the World Cup:
1. Mączynski – will come back to the team and we will be so much more balanced and better with him. With the centre-backs unable to play from the back and Goralski also unable to distribute well Mączyński would have undoubtedly strengthened Poland in the World Cup. He would have addressed our biggest weakness – inability to keep possession between the centre-backs and the midfield. He would have helped to try and dictate the tempo of the games (which was our only option really given the lack of pace in our team).
2. Kamiński – probably should have gone instead of Peszko. Against Colombia could have replaced Pazdan to distribute better with his strong left foot. His lack of pace and agility remains a slight problem though. Should continue getting call-ups.
3. Żurkowski – I know some people rate him very highly but he’s nowhere near the national team level, in my opinion. Needs to improve his overall football skills in all departments. I keep my fingers crossed for him.
4. Szymański – a good player in a good club. Hopefully he’ll shine next season. Still a long way to go which is natural given he’s only 19.
5. Wilczek – he is a fighter and will do everything to get another game for Poland but given his age and pressure to give the young players a chance it could be to difficult for for him.
6. Dawidowicz – so far, both for full Poland and u-21 Poland, he hasn’t shown anything which would suggest he should continue getting call-ups.
7. Kędziora – has not progressed much in the last two three seasons so hard to believe he could play a major role for Poland any time soon.
8. Skorupski – should remain in future squads.