Poland World Cup PreviewPosted: Monday May 27, 2002 4:49 PM
How they line up
Jerzy Engel has declared many times that: "Our strength is in our unity."
He has also recognized his team's formation is governed by the fact that the side contains only limited flair.
"I analyzed every modern system and chose the best two: 4-3-2-1 and 4-4-2," he said. "I realized I had no great players like France have that would allow us to adapt to the first of these formations. So, finally, I decided that 4-4-2 would be optimal for us."
Jerzy Dudek, who has had a superb first season at Liverpool, is the undisputed No1 keeper, with Radoslaw Majdan an able deputy.
The zonal back four benefits from the fact that it includes two Schalke central defenders -- Tomasz Hajto and Tomasz Waldoch -- allowing for a greater understanding. Hajto can also be used as a defensive midfielder if needed, and his long throw is a major attacking weapon. Lens' Jacek Bak has been knocking on the door to take the stopper berth. He can operate anywhere in the defense or as a defensive midfielder. Jacek Zielinski is also in contention for a starting place in central defense having fully recovered from injury.
Both full-backs -- Tomasz Klos (right) and Michal Zewlakow (left) -- like to attack. Tomasz Rzasa is another option at left-back, and, as a former winger, he can also be moved into midfield.
Radoslaw Kaluzny works hard in central midfield, fulfilling his defensive duties as well as showing a desire to get forward. He proved this by scoring five times in the qualifiers. But Kaluzny's main duty is to hold the fort while Piotr Swierczewski shows his playmaking abilities. His experience and fighting spirit are crucial to the team's overall performance.
On the right of midfield Bartosz Karwan faces competition from Tomasz Iwan, who can also operate as an attacking midfielder. Last year Iwan was a regular starter but lost his place because of his problems in finding a new club. Recently, however, he has had the chance to restake his claim after Karwan was absent through injury.
On the left, Marek Kozminski has had a far from ideal preparation, failing to secure a first-team place at Brescia in Italy and finally going on loan to Second Division Ancona. But despite such problems he remains Poland's best passer and most versatile player. He can also be used as a full-back on either side, and could even be brought in for Klos, who has been out of form lately. By contrast, Jacek Krzynowek has been in good form for Nurnberg in the Bundesliga and is a ready-made replacement for Kozminski. Arkadiusz Bak is another attack-minded option.
Poland's main source of goals is the Nigeria-born Emmanuel Olisadebe. The 23-year-old's form for Panathinaikos has been patchy this season, however. Last year the speedy, powerful Pawel Kryszalowicz became Olisadebe's regular partner. Marcin Zewlakow is normally the reserve forward. Maciej Zurawski and the emerging talent of Ebi Smolarek provide other options in attack, but both lack experience.