Ahead of Wednesday night’s international friendly between Scotland and Poland, Polish football writer Christopher Lash gives us the lowdown on three Polish players to watch out for.
Poland currently possesses a relatively strong squad, their main failing is a lack of consistency as a collective when it really matters. Individually their key players are as follows:
In Lewandowski Poland possess a world superstar who will make a much trumpeted move to Bayern Munich from Borussia Dortmund this summer. Lewandowski really came to the world’s attention during the first leg of last season’s Champions League semi-final when he scored an amazing four goals against Real Madrid. His rise has been meteoric, from the reserves of Legia Warsaw on to Warsaw area lower league side Znicz Pruszków, then Polish giants Lech Poznań before making his move to Borussia in the summer of 2010.
Lewandowski has been a revelation at Dortmund, playing as the lone striker in a fluid 4-2-3-1 formation. He’s a wonderful finisher and regularly creates goals for his teammates. For Poland he has however disappointed – in the recent World cup qualifying campaign he scored just a solitary goal from open play. His poor form for the national team has brought at times sharp criticism in his homeland but the Polish national team does not play with Borussia’s fluency and inventiveness. Still Lewandowski is a threat and Scotland will have to watch out for him.
Glik is an uncompromising central defender who currently captains Serie A mid-table side Torino. Glik has become renowned for his physical and competitive style of play in Italy – his blocks, headers and clearances (Scottish fans should cast their mind back to Colin Hendry’s heroics when at Blackburn) have won the northern Italian club a lot of points this season. His almost mythic status among Torino fans was confirmed when a local hip-hop posse recorded a song about Glik. The posse sings “We stay hardcore like Kamil Glik! against a back-drop of flares and scarves-covering-faces ultras.
Like Lewandowski his form for the Polish national team has not been as impressive as that for his club side. A great performance and a goal in the home world cup qualifier against England was followed by more inconsistent play towards the end of the qualifying campaign. Glik should however be a key player for Poland as they attempt to qualify for Euro 2016. He’s not so talented on the floor but if played alongside a calm central defender like FK Krasnodar’s Artur Jędrzejczyk, Glik will be an important asset.
Werder Bremen’s Ludovic Obraniak, or Ludo as he is known, is perhaps the most controversial player in the Polish squad. French born and bred, he qualifies to play for Poland due to a Polish grandfather but only decided to represent the country after failing to make the full French national team. Although performing decently for Poland (6 goals in 32 games) the attacking midfielder has been on the receiving end of a barrage of criticism from certain members of the Polish press and public for his supposedly mercenary ways. After a spat with Polish captain Jakub Błaszczykowski Ludo quit the national team in May 2013 only to be recalled for the friendly with Scotland.
Despite the unseemly polemics Ludo has much to offer for the Polish national team. He has a wizard of a left foot, which allows him to take accurate corners and well-placed free-kicks and he also hits a mean shot from distance. He can play either behind a lone front man or sit deeper and spray passes to initiate attacks. If Ludo can be reintegrated properly into the national squad, and issues with certain players can be solved, he can play an important role in the qualifying campaign. If he starts he could be a thorn in Scotland’s side on Wednesday evening.