Tomorrow is the day Franciszek Smuda names his wide squad of thirty-two names that will compete to get into the Euro 2012 team – which means nine of them will still be cut off at some point in the following weeks. Among many problems, scandals, matches, Smuda first claimed that his selection will close one year before the tournament but as the deadline he set up himself is nearing, it seems that it was all for nothing and few names will be called that haven’t featured for Poland yet.
With Artur Boruc (Fiorentina) and Tomasz Kuszczak (Watford/Man United) – both fine keepers, playing regularly at club level for at least last few months – out of the squad for the inconveniences caused to Smuda, the only proper goalie left is Wojciech Szczęsny (Arsenal) with his backup being the one who waits for his mistakes at the Emirates, Łukasz Fabiański. After suffering from concussion earlier in the season and having vision problems following his clash with own defender, Przemysław Tytoń (PSV) seems also certain to go. With Smuda willing to have one spare option for another month, there is additional place for one surprising call-up – probably from the Ekstraklasa, where lately there is less domestic talent than it were few years ago.
Grzegorz Sandomierski (Jagiellonia/Genk) failed in Belgium but now is enjoying fine form for once under Tomasz Hajto but his struggle with pressure may be a problem for Smuda. The other name that is doing rounds is the one of Łukasz Skorupski, who is one of the best players of Górnik Zabrze this season but lately was involved in a drinking scandal, which is not welcomed by Poland’s coach. The other goalkeepers that were involved in the selection, Michał Gliwa, Sebastian Przyrowski (both Polonia Warsaw), Sebastian Małkowski (Lechia Gdansk) are out for different reasons – mainly because they are not good enough.
First of all, it is worth to note that in completing his squad, this is the line at which Smuda will look and have a problem. Not only because four of his defenders are injured or coming back from more/less serious one, but also in terms of quality. The only one that kept his performances on the highest European level for most of the season is Łukasz Piszczek (Borussia Dortmund), who became one of the leading right-backs in the Bundesliga.
But what next? Only problems – Marcin Wasilewski (Anderlecht) was lately involved in a drinking scandal with Sławomir Peszko and only because he wasn’t arrested by police, his name is still in the hat. But he had discipline problems in the Belgium league, also being strong character, he may be the controversial leader when things will not go the right way for the national team – given how he is liked among the squad, he will enjoy some leadership.
Damien Perquis (Sochaux) had at best average season and lately is coming back from elbow injury but still he is regarded to be confident of his place in the starting line-up. Arkadiusz Głowacki is and for long was Smuda’s favorite for the role but his performances at Trabzonspor were not highly rated recently. The back up option may be Kamil Glik (Torino) but Smuda was not observing him lately despite positive reports coming from Italy. Marcin Komorowski (Terek Grozny) have impressed over last year or more, yet he played only twice under Smuda and recently had knee problem that is keeping him on the sidelines ever since.
Grzegorz Wojtkowiak (Lech Poznan) is a back up yet poor option to cover for Piszczek on right back but it is the left side that suffers the most. Sebastian Boenisch had not competed at the top level for two years and his for is one big question mark, while Jakub Wawrzyniak (Legia) looked very complacent recently and his form dropped, yet he is the only one that may be a rational solution. Unfortunately, there are rumours that Łukasz Mierzejewski (Podbeskidzie) is one of Smuda’s favorites, though he never was and never will be international level and his possible inclusion may be very controversial.
Some back up options may be Jakub Rzeźniczak and Artur Jędrzejczyk (both from Legia) but the first one recently played as defensive midfielder. Maciej Sadlok (Polonia Warsaw) and Marcin Kamiński (Lech Poznan) may be the surprising solutions for centre-back positions and one of them may actually be included in the wide squad named tomorrow.
Probably the most comfortable area for Smuda as he may have even some headache over decisions regarding players for several positions. In a 4-2-3-1 system he will be surely adopting, Smuda will make sure that he has each position covered and even resignation from Sławomir Peszko (Koln) will not do any harm to his plans.
It’s easier to start with those who are certain of their places in the wide squad – Jakub Błaszczykowski (Borussia Dortmund) is the Poland’s captain and fine performer in each game, Ludovic Obraniak (Lille) is also one of the leading forces, while Maciej Rybus (Terek Grozny) may be a surprise starter, yet his performances are steadily getting better in Russia. Dariusz Dudka (Auxerre) is also a very comforting player for Smuda, given how many positions he can play at. Adrian Mierzejewski (Trabzonspor) was a subject of the biggest transfer of Polish player from the Ekstraklasa last year but had tough first season in Turkey and despite being underused by his club, he will be handed his chance by Smuda. Rafał Murawski (Lech Poznan) despite failing abroad has shown promises of a good form for his club recently and is in Smuda’s plans. Also Eugen Polanski (Mainz) is a certain starter.
Now over to those that were playing under Smuda and have somewhat good chance to be among others after tomorrow’s decision. Tomasz Jodłowiec (Polonia Warsaw) is for some reason Smuda’s favorite, not at centre-back position but playing as defensive midfielder but he will have to compete for that place with Cezary Wilk (Wisła Krakow) and Adam Matuszczyk (Fortuna Dusseldorf) – though both of them have struggled for form. From the attacking options, Smuda promised to take at least one young player and certainly he will look at Rafał Wolski and Michał Żyro (both Legia) to choose from. The first one may be a better option as a replacement for Obraniak in more central role with his technical qualities, while Żyro may fill the gap on the left.
There is quite a few surprising options – Tomasz Kupisz and Maciej Makuszewski (both Jagiellonia) are the ones that could be on for a sensational call up, while Radosław Majewski (Nottingham Forest) seems to be the forgotten one, despite recent good performances. Szymon Pawłowski (Zagłębie Lubin) is named in the squad by several journalists yet others claim that it will happen only because Smuda is very fond of him… Ariel Borysiuk (Kaiserslautern) is also an option but Smuda doesn’t think he has matured enough during his six months in Germany.
Robert Lewandowski (Borussia Dortmund) is a certain starter and leading player of the team but it seems that there is not enough class to replace him if something bad happens. Under many questions of the quality of those who play abroad and in the Ekstraklasa, Smuda will do everything to take as much strikers as possible and look himself at their form, “touch them”, as he often says and then make final decision. Kamil Grosicki (Sivasspor) is as close as Smuda will get to proper replacement but he must know that former Jagiellonia player is not exactly the kind of striker of Lewandowski’s quality.
Paweł Brożek (Celtic) and Ireneusz Jeleń (Lille) are those who failed to get playing time despite their recent moves, while in the Ekstraklasa there are only few unproven options to look at – Maciej Jankowski and Arkadiusz Piech (both Ruch Chorzow) are surprising options yet, to be honest, there is barely a chance they will be the force to make anything happen on the pitch during the tournament. Michał Kucharczyk (Legia Warsaw) is also another possibility, especially given that he can play as a striker and winger. Back up option can be Artur Sobiech (Hannover) who proved himself to be good replacement and scored few goals coming up late but his first season in the Bundesliga wasn’t as good as he expected it to be.
WHO SHOULD BE IN THE 32?
This is only my choice and it may differ from what Franciszek Smuda thinks – correction – it will definitely differ with his opinion. I have made my decision from the players that he will choose from and even though I see that the likes of Boruc, Kuszczak and Żewłakow in my team, I know that there is no chance it will happen. To make it as close as possible to tomorrow’s decision, I have limited my choice to the names that are in Smuda’s head.
Goalkeepers: Wojciech Szczęsny, Łukasz Fabiański, Przemysław Tytoń, Grzegorz Sandomierski
Defenders: Łukasz Piszczek, Artur Jędrzejczyk, Damien Perquis, Marcin Wasilewski, Tomasz Jodłowiec, Kamil Glik, Jakub Wawrzyniak, Sebastian Boenisch, Marcin Komorowski, Grzegorz Wojtkowiak
Midfielders: Jakub Błaszczykowski, Ludovic Obraniak, Maciej Rybus, Eugen Polanski, Rafał Murawski, Adrian Mierzejewski, Dariusz Dudka, Adam Matuszczyk, Rafał Wolski, Tomasz Kupisz, Radosław Majewski, Ariel Borysiuk
Strikers: Robert Lewandowski, Kamil Grosicki, Paweł Brożek, Ireneusz Jeleń, Artur Sobiech, Maciej Jankowski.