Tag Archives: Poland

2 England v Poland Qualifiers To Make You Worry

With Hodgson’s boys looking good for World Cup qualification in a Pole filled Wembley tonight you’d think England would be a beautiful place of rainbows and optimistic thoughts instead of the gloomy autumn clouds hovering over everyone’s pessimistically groaning head.

Rather than being proud of potentially joining the world’s best at next summer’s tournament, fan’s already have us out of the group stages next year to Ethiopia and simultaneously dislike the use of sturdy old players and promising young talents.

But we should be thankful. We didn’t always have the luxury of being unsatisfied with success; as with haircuts, people had it worse in the 70s.

So read and watch on and be grateful that you won’t have to witness these scenarios tonight.

Right?

Poland 2 – 0 England, World Cup Qualifier 1973

England got what appeared to be a sweet deal in qualification for 1974’s West German World Cup; just Poland and Wales in qualification. But it was about as sweet as a James Milner’s crossing and, when England traveled to Chorzow in ’73, several horrifying things happened.

First of all England wore yellow shirts like some kind of knock off Brazil, and secondly the man who’s so English his heart is shaped like a lion – Bobby Moore – had a ‘mare.

Moorezinho

First of all, England’s World Cup winning captain scored an own goal, then he got caught in possession after making an uncharacteristic poor decision under pressure. To top it off, Alan Ball – another winner in ’66 – got a red card in what was Poland’s first and currently only defeat of England.

England 1 – 1 Poland, World Cup Qualifier 1973

After the yellow nightmare Poland routinely beat Wales meaning England would have to beat them at Wembley to advance to Germany.

Everything looked good though; England had just beaten Austria 7-0 in a friendly and had recovered from the last Poland game. By all accounts, the Polish were in for a hell of a game.

There was just one thing that Alf Ramsey and co hadn’t banked on though – Jan ‘The Clown’ Tomaszewski, the Polish goalkeeper.

They say every player plays the game of his life at some point, and this was Tomaszewski’s. Staring down the barrel of 36 shots and 26 corners, the keeper’s resistance was only broken by a Allan Clarke penalty which only served to cancel out the earlier Polish goal conceded by a combination of Norman Hunter’s sluggishness and Peter Shilton’s ability to give away easy goals at key moments.

At a 0-0 half-time Brian Clough reassured viewers that goals would be coming, calling Tomaszewski a “circus clown in gloves” (something he apologised personally for years later), but they didn’t.

A series of great saves and some debatable box work saw England held to a draw, knocked out of the group, and Tomaszewski become a folk hero.

Bar that truly ridiculous save from Colin Bell, the most amazing thing about ‘The Clowns’ performance is that – in true pre-Premier League style – he broke five bones in his wrist after two minutes and continued on to play an outstanding game.

Think about that next time Ashley Young ‘breaks’ his shin pad on a particularly unruly blade of grass.

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Euro 2012: Group A Final Games

Take that William Hill, want to know where I keep my Crystal ball?

So one of the best teams of the tournament in Russia go out, and one of the worst in Greece, go through. I read a Greek journalist’s thoughts before the Euros that in among all the unemployment, the team is one of the few things that the people still believe in, that “This team allows Greeks to dream”. I had begun to suspect it might happen but never truly believed it.

The entire night was largely governed by a single goal at any time. Czechs score – they’re through, Pols score – they’re through, Russians score – they’re through, Greeks be impossible – they’re through.

To stop teams being Benjamin Boring, we are now only rolling with the two night games which is very annoying for someone trying to write about the two, so there better not be a single boring final game score, Platini. To make matters worse, after watching  Czechs v Pols, I saw the Russia highlights and don’t really fancy watching the now atmosphereless game. So let’s push it under the rug and look at the game in Wroclaw first.

A genuine game of two halves, it could well be that the Republic had a master plan all along, or rather Polska didn’t. Twas a game similar to a mouse (Pol) fighting a scorpion (Cze). To begin with the mouse was quick and direct, peppering the scorpion with hits and moving quickly all around it. The scorpion bided, only occasionally poking the mouse in the side with its claw thing. The mouse was at its best when using the moves it picked up at Dortmund but was missing the scorpion too much.

Sure enough, as time passed the mouse began to wear down and run out of ideas about how to hurt the scorpion, which is the moment the scorpion chose to deploy its sting. The mouse was paralyzed and unable to do anything, eventually it was gone.

Stinging/Winning

Don’t ask me what just happened up there.

With the Dortmund connection not firing, Poland were revealed as a team relying too much on key personnel which will never see you well at this level of football. It was made a fairly even contest for a while by the lack of Rosicky, but the result was always on the cards after Poland missed so many chances in the first half. Unfortunately, Poland should have had a penalty from one of the plagues of the game, handballs in walls. HBW really pisses me off.

Where Franciszek Smuda was during the second half I don’t know, but his team really needed some direction and to calm down in possession. Perhaps he realised this and has terminated his career in shame.

Still this mattered not to Russia, who knew that whatever those ex-comrades got up to, they only needed to win or draw against rubbish old Greece to go through, what could go wrong?

Well for a start you could have 31 shots with only two getting to the goalkeeper. Or you could have near 600 passes but be compacted so much that only a third go forwards. You could also let the opposition have two shots on target but one could go in. You did all these things? Oh dear.

You have to hand it to the Greek Catenaccio, they know how they want to play and that’s how they do it. Masses of defence, deep and compact, massive balls up field to play for any set pieces, last-ditch blocks (12 in all), and always look to Georgios Karagounis to make something happen. Zhirkov turned off for one sec and blam, the veteran captain is through on goal and you’re heading out of the tournament.

If the Persian Empire struggled to get through this formation…

…How was Dzagoev and co going to get through this?

It was a perfect example of a captain’s goal; dragging his team, his whole country, into the quarter finals like a gigantic block of feta cheese. It’s rare you see one goal devastate so many teams, it shook Russia with the timing and it ruined Poland with pressure.

Many will feel that it was a fluke or an injustice to Russia that the hairy men from the Med are going through, but if Greece were that bad and Russia lose to them, who deserves to go through? Such is the bittersweet of group knockouts.

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Euro 2012: Group A Matchday 2 Lookback

Sorry about my tardiness, I know we saw Group B today (seriously Portugal, Bendtner?) but that’s not how I roll, we’ll talk about that tomorrow.

Greece have a problem. Well two problems, well eleven problems, and they don’t play in the first half. Greece have problems.

The tongue twisting combination of Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Avraam Papadopoulos being out meant that the Greeks had to have a shuffle in a position that they are already lightly staffed in. Within six minutes we knew it had failed. In a big show of public honesty, Greece’s goalie Chalkias even removed himself after he suddenly realised just how poor he is.

The bigger problem however is that the Blue-whites don’t have two Georgios Samaras’. About midway through the first half they moved the big Celtic forward to the left prong of midfield letting Gekas and the threatening Salpigidis head the attack. And it worked. His energy, movement, dominance in the air, and general wise use of possession proved useful. He carried on out there in the second half and the Greeks saw goal chances as a result. The only problem was, Samaras wasn’t also in the middle to finish the chances off.

Me! Over here Me!

The Czechs did a bit better however, bar Petr Cech and his buttery thumbs made of cotton wool. Why are you powersliding into that catch?! The two most promising players – Tuncay lookalike Petr Jiracek and nippy clinical forward Vaclav Pilar – got on the scoresheet but petr-ed (come on) out as the game went on. But it didn’t matter really because they got the win, perhaps Milan Baros will do something before they stop playing him.

The other side of Group A saw the co-host Polska take on the formidable Russia. Well less formidable now. More politically motivated than England vs Argentina, the riot police seemed to be the only team taking a battering as this was a fairly even contest.

You would say that Russia edged the first half but that Poland could have snatched it after another member of the Dortmund connection, Jakub Blaszczykowski scored the goal of the tournament thus far. The ball to him was as precise as an ant’s lasercutter and he struck it as sweet as you like, you’ve got to love it when the hosts score.

Russia meanwhile were let down by the star of matchday uno and Chinese child impersonator Arshavin. See the problem is, and Arsenal fans will tell you this, he is a bloody useful player when he’s on form and when he’s not – he is a complete liability.

Unfortunately he was loose in possession yesterday and was suffering from a big bout of laziness, as he is prone to, which cost Russia. All Poland’s threat in the second half come down his flank, even the beauty of a pass for the goal came from Yuri Zhirkov being left up against two players and it could have cost Russia the point.

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