13 paź 2012

Answers are given as Poland wins

Boos from the crowd send the home team to the dressing room as half time approached and only few players could not take the critique to their hearts. Waldemar Fornalik, however, could only reflect on the opening forty-five minutes and make decisions that would give answers not for how Friday's encounter would go on, but what may Tuesday bring. 

Paweł Wszołek, for instance, was taken off precariously following his fine display - young winger was at his creative best, surging down the right and left flank, depending on how he changed sides with unimpressive and mistake-prone Mierzejewski. The evidence was enough for Fornalik to decide who needs no further test - Polonia's midfielder may have suffered small injury scare at the beginning of the week (which could be another - different? - reason for his withdrawal) but given the start and chance, Wszołek repaid the faith with statement of taking advantage of Błaszczykowski's injury.

"I can be only happy that the players have given me a fair bit of material to analyse before England match" - said the manager. Just after one hour mark, one of the biggest surprises of this season in French Ligue 1, Grzegorz Krychowiak was subbed and Fornalik was not short of a praise for his midfielder whose impressive progress have surely won him the place against Gerrard, Carrick and Lampard - or whoever else Roy Hodgson picks.

There was a small doubt of whether both keepers will be tested but Przemysław Tytoń made sure there is no worry for the coaching staff, even if his recent problems at PSV were a concern for all involved. But he was calm and composed, focused and commanding, claiming everything that went his way - that said, the quality of opposition, RSA's attitude, was surely poorer than of those who booed the home team at half time.

Komorowski's goal was enough what Poland deserved from the game, though it should be Artur Sobiech to find the net, given couple of occasions earlier on, before he collided with Khune and was stretched off the pitch and send to the hospital for further tests. It was not only his mistakes in front of the goal, though - Arkadiusz Piech is guilty of wasting one glorious chance from Wszołek's brilliant pass over the defence, while Adrian Mierzejewski was left swearing at heavens at his early miss.

Answers were all round. Solidness of Damien Perquis and his fine, timed interventions has given food for thought to Fornalik as Glik was rested, but then nor Wasilewski's recent performances at club level, nor Grzegorz Wojtkowiak's show off were enough to make Fornalik put Piszczek at right-wing, as some of the media wanted. The latter's positioning was suspicious and he allowed RSA's fast wingers inside too many times - mistakes that could prove costly against more clinical opposition.

"Actually, I think our performance will depend a lot on Obraniak" - claimed Robert Lewandowski, obviously referring to the England match, not friendly encounter on Friday. His influence may be crucial for the breaks and how they shape - if not going on wing, the French-born midfielder must be put through more passes as both Krychowiak and Borysiuk struggle to put the ball forward faster. In fact, most of their passes were safe, side-changing rather than pace-giving when the latter was more needed. Their performances will be rated on the base of the defensive display at which they did well - with Polanski's eagerness to move forward with the ball at his feet, Krychowiak's interceptions and protection may be more crucial than distribution.

The shape will be different, as will be the performers. Lewandowski will give more intelligence with his movement and, hopefully, more quality to the poor finishing we saw on Friday. The left-hand-side is still as crucial as who goes on the right - without Błaszczykowski the balance between flanks will be sustained and shared, not as heavy relying on captain's shoulders whenever he is present. This may not make up for his eight goals in last sixteen Poland games, but surely gives more options, which is always crucial against stronger opposition.

Kamil Grosicki and Waldemar Sobota - the choice between them will not be made solemnly on their wide range of tricks and ideas, but how they track back and keep channels closed. Something much more crucial in keeping the clean sheet against less creative but more persistent and patient side Hodgson's trying to create. Waldemar Fornalik will look how to frustrate his opposition at first, then to make them pay for nervous mistakes - his pragmatism will allow Poland to attack with four players at best, on fast counters and with direct approach.

The second win of Fornalik's tenure was important to set up some basis for bigger challenges ahead. The other game, Ukraine's goalless draw in Moldova, opens the chance even with a defeat on Tuesday but even a point against England may mean a lot for the team that is in constant transition since Smuda left. More important than games won are, indeed, the answers and surely, on a cold Friday's night in Warsaw, Waldemar Fornalik was given enough to look at Poland's next fixture with a slightly bigger hope than the very first news of his players' injuries came to him few days back.

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