It has been twelve years since the “Bialo-Czerwoni” managed to qualify for a World Cup. In this 2018 they will be in Russia to play a the most important competition for national teams again. Poland has in recent years a good generation of players, who plays in the biggest club all around Europe , due to this high level of the Poles , Poland got to play the last European Championship in France and now this World Cup in Russia.
The man who successfully led them through qualification, is Adam Nawalka , the former International player . He had the chance to represent Poland in a World Cup in 1978 with 19 years old. Adam knows polish football , he has been coaching few teams as Gornik Zabrze, Wisla Krakow or GKS Katowice till he was choosing to manage the national team in 2013.
PREVIOUS TOURNAMENTS AND ROAD TO RUSSIA
Last World Cup for the European team it was in Germany 2006 , they were drawn inside group A with the local Germany , Costa Rica and Ecuador. Poland got three points to finish on the third position in this group , they lost against Germany and Ecuador ( 0-1 ,0-2) and they beaten Costa Rica in the last fixture for 2-1 to don’t finish on the bottom . The polish team scored twice and conceded four goals in this short adventure in the World Cup.
In order to qualify to this World Cup, Poland was first on the group E from European Confederation, UEFA . They lead the group over Denmark, Montenegro and Romania. The other teams in this group were Armenia and Kazahjstan . The White and Red only lost four points in ten games played. One defeat against Denmark away with a heavy score , four to null for the Danish and one draw again the Kazahjstan , as a visitor the game finished with a two goals for each team.
The end of qualification made Robert Lewandowski as a top scorer in all UEFA group with 16 targets. However Poland was the team which more goals conceded , 14 in total from all of the national teams which finished as first in their groups. The difference between Poland and the second team on the group, Denmark it was five points . The Poles were really strong playing at home at Warsawa National Stadium where they scored at least two goals in each game during this qualification stage.
The majority of squad play abroad , there are only four players on this list , who play in Ekstraklasa , so Adam Nawalka was waiting till all competition were done to make the final decision regarding the list. Polish federation organised six friendly games from November 2017 since June 2018 , for the moment only one win over South Korea (3-2) , they got two draws against Uruguay and Chile and the were defeated for Mexico and Nigeria during this preparation.
PROBABLE SQUAD AND PREPARATORY FRIENDLIES
Adam Nawalka had an issue with the shoulder injured of the central defender Kamil Glik during a training session , Monaco’s player is still on the list and pending to be recovered . The Polish national coach should take a decision regarding him before travelling to Russia. Only two preparation games have been organised for the polish federation in order to prepare the World Cup, one go them against Chile , the South American team it is an sparring similar to the Colombian conditions , the second opponent into the group E in the World Cup. The last game it will be against Lithuania , one day before travelling from Warsaw to Sochi , where the poles will have their head quarters during this World Cup.
The list of 23 , have interesting players in each line. Starting from the Goal , it should be highlighted two of the three goalkeepers, presumably Szczesny it will be on line up , Wojtek it is strong goal keeper on the air balls , however his weakness it is on one to one in front of striker . The second goal keeper ready and with a similar level than Szczesny , it is Fabianski , the goalie from Swansea have been played few games during qualification as well. Regarding defenders Piszczek and Glik are the principal defender and the ones with more experience, they should be the leaders of this line of four or three depend on Nawalka decision , beside them we can find players like Pazdan or the young Bednarek. Piotr Zielenski , it is the young talent , who will need to manage the attacking polish actions during this World Cup , he poses wonderful vision of the game and don’t hesitate to shoot outside box , another players from midfield are more experienced and they have more work rate in defensive actions, players like Krzychowiak or the fast winger Grosicki. The goal in Poland has a well known name , he is Lewandowski , the Bayern Munich striker scored 16 goals during qualification and he feels bad about last European cup , where we could not see in real actions. Hopefully Milik will show his best face , he spent another terrible year due to long injured so reach this World Cup it is something really important for him.
Goalkeepers: Wojtek Szczesny (Juventus) , Lukasz Fabianski ( Swansea City), Bartosz Bialkowski ( Ipswich Town)
Defenders: Michal Pazdan ( Legia Warsawa) , Artur Jedrzejczyk ( Legia Warsawa), Thiago Cionek ( Spal) , Jan Bednarek ( Southampton), Kamil Glik ( Monaco) , Bartosz Bereszynski ( Sampdoria) , Lukasz Piszczek ( Borussia Dortmund)
Midfielders: Piotr Zielenski ( Nápoles) , Jacek Goralski ( Ludogorets) , Karol Linetty (Sampdoria) , Grzegorz Krzychowiak ( WBA) , Kamil Grosicki ( Hull City), Maciej Rybus ( Lokomotiv Moscú) , Jakub Blaszczykowski ( Wolfsburgo), Slawodir Pezsko ( Lechia Gdanks), Rafal Kurzawa ( Gornik Zabrze)
Forwards: Robert Lewandowski ( Bayern Munich), Arkadiusz Milik ( Nápoles) , Lukasz Teodorczyk ( Anderlecht) , David Kownacki ( Sampdoria)
Adam Nawalka has experimented with few formations during this qualification to Russia 2018 . The national coach started with a 1-4-4-1-1 , line of four defenders with two offensive full backs as Lukasz Piszczek and Bartosz Bereszynski , in the midfielder he was using two defensive midfielder as Grzegorz Krzychowiak and Maczynski this one it is not in the final list for this World Cup. Nawalka is a coach who likes to play from outside , with the wingers and for this kind of play, he is using during whole qualification two players with a long way and speed in order to work the wings, these two players are Jakub Blaszczykowski and Kamil Grosicki . The offensive using during the qualification ,it is Zielenski playing behind the top scorer of the team Lewandowski.
In the last few games, he is making some changes in the formation going to a 1-3-4-3 with two players wide open, to acquire both a greater depth in the attack and generate aid for the defence of three central .However with this formation, the team has lost the surprise effect of their sides , due to Lukasz Piszczek has been moved to the line of three as central defender. The three defenders have been more space to cover and they are suffering in counter attack actions of the opponent, Pazdan , Glik and Piszczek are not so fast players in one to one actions. It is more than likely that the Polish coach will use a formation 1-4-4-2 combined with a 1-4-2-3-1 , to have a support in the front and have a greater consistency in the midfield , Robert Lewandowski is the head of the area, the Bayern Munich striker is a hunter inside the penalty box , with the open wingers that supply crosses like Kuba Blaszczykowski and Kamil Grosicki. Both players create game on the wings to look for Lewandowski.
The Poles play it is quite attractive for the supporters . The offensive aspect is the most characteristic of this team, where Lewandowski is the reference forward in addition to other players with offensive contributions such as Milik or Grosicki. Lately the Polish coach is opting for a greater combinative game with greater brazenness by wings. They do not usually play long and they prefer to build up from defence with the support of Krzychowiak and Linetty , both are embedded between the central defenders in order to get a clean build up . Full back and wingers are really important for Nawalka’s idea , he wants to make the pitch wide and deeper with players like Grosicki , Blaszczykowski and Piszczek.
The Polish team performs a very high pressure in the opponent’s construction zone , going to pressure with more than one player to the opponent with the ball on his feet . Even the central defenders are following the opponent out of their zone when the players are playing back to the goal. Due to this high pressing , during many moments of the game, Poland can play the counterattack by using the power of its sides these two players Zielinski and Linetty, can launch the counter attack actions , they bring a greater freshness in the combinative game. These players are bringing greater clarity to the Nawalka game, and both players can play as midfielders and second striker.
It is one of the biggest problems that the Polish national is having , during qualification they were the team which finished on top with more goals conceded.
The main leader is Glik, player of AS Monaco and one of the best European defender however he is on doubt due to his injured shoulder , next to him we find Pazdan . The Polish defenders generate a great danger by wings where Rybus can break in attacking actions but he has more problems on defensive than his team-mate Piszczek. Both are suffering the lack of solidarity in defensive tasks that wingers offer and it is something that Nawalka will have to deal with.
Poland will have one of the best generation of his history , and probably it will be the last tournament for many of them. Poles should advance to the next round behind Colombia , they present an attractive game and the key players have already a lot of experience in a top team in Europe for the last couple of years. It will be a big failure don’t even qualify to the next round . Later they will have in case of advance a tough game against group G where they could find England or Belgium.