Euro 2012: Trouble for Poles?
When I see what coach Franciszek Smuda has done to that team...I'm devastated and angry at the same time.
Jan Tomaszewski offers his Expert (and very honest) Guide to the Polish side for Euro 2012.
When Poland was given the hosting rights for Euro 2012 back in 2007, I couldn't have been happier. That was the dream come true for us, to have this way to promote our country, show the best of our culture and history. But to be honest, since then, we have only given the promises of a better future.
I have to say, I'm upset with our tournament preparations and now we, the Polish nation, have to make up for all the mistakes made with the hospitality for which we are known worldwide. Our visitors will definitely need it, especially after their long and troublesome travels to us...on the roads from Wroclaw to Warsaw, from Poznan to Gdansk, they will need it!
Smuda's bizarre policies
It's been in the last year that I've lost interest in the Poland national team. When I see what coach Franciszek Smuda has done to that team, who he has picked to play, how he explained his call-ups...I'm devastated and angry at the same time, that players of other 'nationalities' will grace the European Championships under the Polish flag.
With three players of truly international class, footballers after great seasons at club level - Robert Lewandowski, Kuba Blaszczykowski (both Borussia Dortmund) and Wojciech Szczesny (Arsenal) - we should have a team that can easily beat our group rivals. But we are not sure of that, are we?
Learning from the past. Or have we?
I can recall what [former Poland coach] Kazimierz Gorski did in 1974, when Poland finished third in the World Cup. He had only two top-class players, Robert Gadocha and Kazimierz Deyna, but surrounded them with a team of solid, hard-working yet average, at best, footballers from the domestic league. He made the big two the leaders of the team and it paid off completely.
And obviously Smuda could have done the very same thing! There are players cast aside, not even considered by the manager, young ones, and experienced ones too: Michal Zyro from Legia Warsaw, Ariel Borysiuk from Kaiserslautern, Sebastian Mila and Przemyslaw Kazmierczak from Polish champions Sląsk Wrocław...
Honestly, I would rather give Zyro five minutes in each game and promote his talent and let others see his abilities, than have "dyed foxes" in the squad. They are closing the doors on our domestic talent.
Despite all that...
That said, I can't imagine us not progressing from this group, really. Could we have got a better draw? I don't think so! The Greeks may struggle and from what I have seen lately, they have been mentally affected by what is going on in their country. Russia will be our biggest game and, thankfully, Poland will have their fans fully behind them. This will decide Poland's tournament, we will get our answer then, but if Smuda fails to get out of
Group A... I would say let's take some serious action, against the whole team and the federation. It was their decision to keep Smuda in the job despite the preparations and the problems he caused. I said 18 months ago that we should kick him out!
Spain to reign
The Germans are my favorites but I will be surprised if Spain don't win Euro 2012. If not them, Holland and Germany should step up. Even England, I believe in them. Despite appointing Roy Hodgson so late, they have to rely on their system and go with it. They have enough class to cause a surprise.
Even given Spain's problem with their main strikers, no David Villa and a seemingly out-of-form Fernando Torres, I think they will do well in the tournament. Just look at the players they have who are creating those chances. Honestly, I believe if they had Robert Lewandowski in their squad, he would be Euro 2012's top scorer, easily. With his intelligence, talent and work rate, he would suit them very nicely.
Tournament bet: Poland to qualify from Group A @ Betfair Odds of ([1.8])
Jan Tomaszewski made 63 appearances in goal for Poland and was voted Best Goalkeeper at the 1974 World Cup, where he saved two penalties in two different games as Poland finished third. He is now a pundit and commentator on football in Poland.