Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Roger is alive, again!

Federer over Nadal. 6-3 3-6 6-1 win in the season-ending tournament featuring 8 best players of the year saw the top two seeds making it to the final for the first time since 1986 (Lendl and Becker). After losing the last 6 of 7 games against Rafa, Roger finally won his arch nemesis. And he won convincingly. Not long ago was he a clear choice as the best player of all time. With recent dominance by Nadal over everybody else the choice has not been no longer that clear. Amazing but we might be witnessing two best players of all time playing each other in the same era. Rafa is 5 years younger but that's a small age gap.

Next year Fed should dominate again. He might even win the grand slam! That is all 4 major titles. The more they play each other the better for us.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Polska wins!!

I was onto something. In my prediction I simply doubled the score (6-2) but I take 3-1 victory over Ivory coast any time! Fantastic win for Poland! Great offense again, but ... horrible defense! The goal by Ivory Coast in 45th minute was the third gift from the Polish defender (a pass in a penalty area to opponent is never advisable!). Fortunately, they took advantage of only one mistake. Horrible defense!

The 11 that started against Ivory Coast: Fabianski - Piszczek, Jodlowiec, Wojtkowiak, Sadlok - Matuszczyk, Murawski - Blaszczykowski, Obraniak, Mierzejewski - Lewandowski. Out of that 11, 4-6 players do not guarantee international level of play. Three of them are defenders! Scary!

However, there is hope about (lack of) defense. Early next year, and if everything goes smoothly, Columbian Manuel Arboleda, French Damien Perquis and Brazilian Hernani, will receive Polish passports. Since we have very unreliable defenders (shame!) there is no other choice. Now if that happens, Poland will have a complete team that will only need time to gel for the next 18 months to compete successfully against the European elite.

Offense is almost ready, Smuda (our coach) declared following the game. Well, it is impressive at last and international level in every game is certainly achievable for them. That would be a dream come true. Another important fact, this is a young team built not only for Euro 2012 but also beyond. Wait a minute? Could it be!? Yes, something unthinkable a short while ago but Poland is on its way to the elite! And I am not being biased (ok, maybe a bit but it looks like this team can join European superpowers relatively soon). Don't you screw this up, young Polish eagles! You kin do it! Just don't fall in love with yourselves after one good game.

My evolving starting lineup (since Boruc seems out for good, at least get Szczesny to back up Fabianski, Mr Smuda): Fabianski - Piszczek, Perquis, Arboleda, Boenisch - Matuszczyk, Murawski - Blaszczykowski, Obraniak, Grosicki - Lewandowski.

Matuszczyk, only 21, looks to be a fantastic player. Murawski is certainly replacable (Majewski? a new name? Hopefully). Same with Grosicki, whose position is taken by Mierzejewski for now but Grosicki should be given a chance. No Peszko please! Smolarek, if he comes back to his old self one more time would be great, too).

Poland wants to surprise many during EURO 2012 and it certainly can. Its main goal is to make at least quarterfinals. I hate such minimalist thinking. As a host nation, especially as a host nation, there is only one goal - the championship!

The EURO 2012 will reveal a true character of all players. It is unknown how Poles, who only play friendly matches now, will cope with such pressure. No doubt, standing in front of 40 thousand fans facing Italy (my guess) in an opening game in Warsaw will be completely different. There is only one player who passed such test with flying colors. A fact is that in world cup 2006 in Germany and Euro 2008 in Switzerland and Austria it was only Artur Boruc who revealed a world class. The last line of defense will likely watch his fellow countrymen in front of TV in two years. Therefore with the help of fanatical Polish fans, myself included, I can only hope that the lucky 11 will copy Boruc's perfomances from 2006 and 2008. If they can, Poland will be crowned a new European champion!


Monday, November 15, 2010

About a mess, about the next game

That was some tumultuous time the last couple of weeks for the Polish national team. The best goalie, and one of the best in the world, Artur Boruc fought publicly with the national coach, Franciszek Smuda, over his inappropriate behavior (screaming and drinking a few glasses of wine. He was joined by Poland's captain, Michal Zewlakow, who just set national team record with 101 caps) on the way back from last month games against USA and Ecuador. Ugly.

On the one hand, our coach is right. Players called to national team represent the entire country and should behave properly. That is, should be at least, obvious. Unfortunately, it is not for many of them. The problem of alcohol in Polish team is real and last September proves it (two players were kicked out of the team after heavy drinking following the game against Ukraine). Naturally, when you win, it doesn't matter and no one (media, coaches) would not even touch the "problem". But the last win Poland had against Bulgaria (2-0) last March. Go figure. In the old, good, days (1970s and 80s) it was a normal practice (some former players say today) to have a shot or two before a game (yes, before). (Some said to play better after a couple of drinks. Nice!). But in those days we had truly talented players on and off the field. They could handle it. Today's players clearly cannot.

On the other hand, drinking and getting drunk are two different things. Wine is even recommended with certain meals. It is widely known that Boruc was never Smuda's favorite player but Zewlakow played in almost all matches under Smuda. To make a long story short, according to Smuda, Boruc's behavior was a bad example to other (especially younger) players and not worthy of a national player. So was Zewlakow's (with several key mistakes in the last few games and his advanced soccer age (34) the ex-captain likely said good-bye in a very poor way). The wine incident seems to be an excuse to get rid of them. Boruc even declared to be ready for World Cup 2014 campaign, guessing/wishing Smuda won't be the coach by then anymore. Time will tell.

I do like Boruc and undoubtedly he is Poland's #1 goalie but it is not about personal relationships when it comes to national team. I like him because he is the best. Smuda should take this under considereation. However, the good thing is that Fabianski and Szczesny are not too far behind. Let's hope they will be ready by 2012.

Now onto the real problem. It is unthinkable that many Polish players treat national time as a party time, a vacation from everyday club work. Unfortunately, they do not work as hard as professional players in the western Europe otherwise, with our natural talents, Poland would be in the top ten in soccer ranking. No, they are simply lazy! Playing three games a week is a standard in the west. In Poland, two games a week already provides a problem. This must change.

With all that mess aside, let's talk for a second about the upcoming game. This Wednesday, November 17 in Poznan, Poland is set to play Ivory Coast - a team that should have reached at least semis of the last World Cup. Drogba, Kalou, Toure brothers, Eboue - world class players! However, they did not play as a team, unlike Ghana, but rather as selfish individuals. A great opportunity was lost. That's their problem, though. Poland has its own but I can bet that our coaching staff would welcome Ivory Coast problems for a change. Oh, who wins? Polska! 6-2! Why not?! Led by Jakub Blaszczykowski, Poland's biggest star and new captain, it can be done. GO POLISH EAGLES!

Lastly, an important note, I agree completely with Smuda on another OBVIOUS TO ME matter. When Radoslaw Majewski (a talented and ambitious midfielder) complained publicly to play only 18 minutes against Ecuador last month, for which he already apologized Smuda, our coach replied: "knowing I would play only one minute for Poland I would bike to Canada!"

Against San Marino or Brazil, for one minute or 90, playing for my beloved Poland would be the greatest honor. Something that I will likely never experience.