Dark week for Polish teams in European Cups. Lech Poznań lost in their first game in Prague against Sparta in 3rd qualifying round of Champions League and all clubs representing our country in Europa League lost their matches at home. Jagiellonia debut in Europa started very bad, as after seven minutes they were losing 0-2 against Aris Saloniki, but few minutes from half time, Grzyb took one back. Although Jagiellonia played quite good, they struggled to finish one of their moves in second half. Ruch started well, Pulkowski scored in 4th minute but it took only three more minutes Austria Vienna to equal the score. The visitors scored two more goals which almost for sure ends Ruch chances for qualifying to the next round. Third team, Wisła Kraków, showed truly pathetic display against Qarabagh from Azerbaijan, losing 0-1 at home. Nothing good about the hosts can be said.
Should we be surprised about this lack of results of polish teams? Should we expect from them more? Or should we be aware that our football is no better that those presented by teams from Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania and many smaller countries, without such history, hype and prospects that we have in Poland? Here's some insight into story that is behind one of most pathetic night and week for Polish teams in European Cups in our history.
First of all, we should look at our league. How good it is? Well, when You look at the money players are earning, clubs pay for them, it's somewhere in the middle of football Europe and we're getting higher in this ladder. As I said, we have great prospects - people invest in football, You could read on this blog about stadiums being build for Euro 2012 and not only... even players from better leagues choose Ekstraklasa. But league standard is not that high. You could see that from World Cup - without Polish national team, only three players from Ekstraklasa were among footballers enjoying their time in RSA. And even though our league ended quite early last season, we are starting like those leagues that send hundreds of their players.
Why? Why our players could not rest less time, start the league week, two ago. That would be great advantage for those teams that are now playing in Euro cups, in preparing them for important games by playing in the league, or even some kind of league cup, like in pre-season in Germany. Now managers are trying to make everything work in teams that are, like Wisła or Ruch Chorzów, after some serious changes. That's not about how low are our chances in European Cup, it's how we do everything to not take those chances, make sure that we are prepared and in best shape to face teams that are already after league start.
I don't want even start about how poor is our youth system, how bad prepared tactically and technically are our players to face professionals from better leagues. But sometimes You can hide those disadvantages, lack of skills showing ambition, bravery and physically side of the game. And here is our biggest defeat - our players don't have even that. The best example of such behavior is Paweł Brożek - disinterested for most of the match, lack of any effort, not showing his skills (or maybe he doesn't have any?) but dissatisfaction with his team mates. Even Henryk Kasperczak saw that and subbed him in second half, something that happened for the first time since god-knows-when...
We should not talk about lack of talent - everybody seems to know that we don't have any idea how to run academies, prepare youngsters to make a big step to senior football. What's more - everybody are blaming others, not showing any solution to this problem. That's why we shouldn't expect results like Polish team in group phase of Champions League, clubs in Europe league - we should be prepared for though battles against teams from countries that I introduced earlier, expect ambition and with any luck, maybe the results will finally come.