After all the hype, glitz and talk of victory, Poland’s players served up one of their most lacklustre performances in recent years. In fact, probably one of their worst performances since Dutch coach Leo Beenhakker took over the helm becoming Poland’s first ever foreign manager.
Poland lost 0-2 to Germany who overwhelmed, outplayed and outmanoeuvred Poland on every front. Before hand, the Polish press, the players and Beenhakker himself had played up the possibilities and potential of Poland’s football team saying that Poland’s début in the European Championships will see Poland break their duck and finally manage to beat Germany.
Look No Stars
Unfortunately (for Poland), nothing could be farther from the truth. Poland’s key players – Ebi Smolarek, Maciej Żurawski and Jacek Krzynówek – showed none of the skills that have made them so reliable in recent years. The Polish team simply didn’t turn up and were nothing like the team that had beat Portugal 3-2 in the Euro Qualifiers. But in all truth, it was Germany, or to be more precise Lukas (Łukasz) Podolski, who really shined.
Podolski scored two and ran the show for the Germans. Ironically, Łukasz was born in Gliwice, in Poland and is one of three Polish players in the team (also Mirosław Klose and Piotr Trochowski) and his muted celebrations were well received by Polish fans who realised that Łukasz, by his own admission, had quite a dilemma on his hands playing against the country of his birth. He was also the only German player to swap shirts with a Polish player and actually put on the Polish shirt. He was also the only (Polish) player to give an interview to the Polish press straight after the game – the Polish captain refused.
Whether Poland manages to beat Austria and Croatia and progress to the next round is all in the hands of this crop of players and Leo Beenhakker but it seems that the team was already doomed before the kick off. Kuba Błaszczykowski, a key player, is thought to have had a tiff with Beenhakker regarding his fitness. The manager believed Błaszczykowski was a risk, Kuba disagreed and left the squad. Also, reserve keeper Tomasz Kuszczak returned home with an injury.
The feeling from within the Polish camp is that something is not right. If Poland are to finally do something, make a mark on European football (as their long-suffering fans hope), they will need to finally pull their finger out and show some mettle against hosts Austria and dark horses Croatia. Dream team? I think not. Well, at least Robert Kubica won the Grand Prix…