Men's National Team

Poland vs Nigeria – Match Ratings

Dawid Kownacki was one of the players whom made his debut for Poland against Nigeria on Friday / Twitter
Poland vs Nigeria – Match Ratings

On Friday, the Polish national team suffered a frustrating 1:0 defeat at the hands of Nigeria.

Although Poland appeared to be the stronger of the two clubs, a questionable 61st minute foul by defender, Marcin Kaminski, on Nigerian winger, Victor Moses, afforded Moses the opportunity to massage a low trajectory shot past befuddled keeper, Bartosz Bialkowski.

In an interview with the Daily Post in Nigeria, Moses did not mince words on the validity of the penalty call, “For sure it was a penalty when I was fouled, the referee made the right decision. It was a good win for us”.

Moses did, however, sing Poland some praise, “Poland has many good players. They attacked especially well after conceding the goal, but we showed more character today.”

It is important to note that these March friendlies give manager, Adam Nawalka, the opportunity to experiment with player combinations as well as tinker with formations. This was the case against Nigeria as he rolled out an unconventional 3-5-2 spread.

Despite the disappointing result, there were some bright spots for the boys in red & white. Let’s take a closer look at each players’ performance.


Goalkeepers

Lukasz Fabianski

Fabianski played a relatively uneventful 45 minutes of action, in which he did not face a single shot on net. He did, however, look composed with his ball distribution when called upon with goal kicks and back passes. He will likely take a seat to Wojciech Szczesny for the team’s next friendly against South Korea.

Matching Rating: 8/10

Bartosz Bialkowski

Much like Fabianski, Bialkowski did not see a single shot on goal during his 45 minutes of action. His low match rating is not so much attributable to his perplexed disposition during Moses’ penalty kick, as it is to his general shakiness on shots attempted on net and very poor distribution/lack of aim on goal kicks. He has had a nice season with Ipswich Town F.C., so his call-up was warranted, but his showing was rather poor on Friday.

Matching Rating: 4.5/10


Defenders

Lukasz Piszczek

Piszczek played a steady, yet unspectacular 45 minutes of action. He did not look like a fish out of water when adjusting to Nawalka’s formation. It did, however, seem to limit his propensity to buccaneer down the right wing. In addition, he was missing his partner in crime, Jakub Blaszczykowski – who is still recovering from a knock. Be rest assured that he will be an integral part of the national team this Summer.

Matching Rating: 7/10

Kamil Glik

Glik was his usual physically imposing self against Nigeria. That being said, he did look clumsy on a few occasions and failed to build any semblance of chemistry with fellow defender, Marcin Kaminski. Glik is undoubtedly Poland’s best central defender, so expect better performances in future matches.

Matching Rating: 6.5/10

Marcin Kaminski

Kaminski was called up by Nawalka because he received some recent Bundesliga playing time for his club team, VfB Stuttgart. The call-up backfired as the defender was Poland’s worst player on the pitch. He routinely seemed disorientated, unorganized and, for the most part, lacked good ball distribution. This confluence of events all culminated in him clumsily fouling Moses in the box to give the “Super Eagles” an undeserving victory. The 26-year old from Konin may have destroyed his chances of playing in Russia this Summer.

Matching Rating: 3/10

Artur Jedrzejczyk

Despite being in relatively mediocre form for his club team, Legia Warsaw, Jedrzejczyk was called up based on past national team experience. Unlike Kaminski, the 30-year old made the most of his opportunity by being reliable in the back-end and trekking forward in search of a tying goal. Unfortunately, Jedrzejczyk is not blessed with much offensive ability and, consequently, sent two point blank chances awry in his 45 minutes of action. Regardless, he may have inched closer to winning himself a depth position on Nawalka’s bench for the upcoming World Cup.

Matching Rating: 7/10

Tomasz Kedziora

Came on in the 86th minute to spell Przemyslaw Frankowski.

Matching Rating: Unrated


Midfielders

Piotr Zielinski

Poland’s midfield maestro, Zielinski, had an impressive game, but failed to orchestrate a goal for the home side. It is quite evident to even the most casual observer that the 23-year old is brimming with confidence and gives the national team their most potent central attacking midfielder in recent memory.

Matching Rating: 7.5/10

Grzegorz Krychowiak

Krychowiak’s rating would have rivaled that of Kaminski had he not played in the second half. His first 45 minutes were abysmal. He often airmailed errand passes to teammates, made clumsy challenges and looked downright uncoordinated on other occasions. Fortunately, he bounced back in the second half to be a reasonable facsimile of the commanding presence that was arguably Poland’s best player in the 2016 European Championships. The 28-year old has had a turbulent season with his club side, West Browmich Albion, and needs to regain first team minutes to alleviate the concerns of national team fans.

Matching Rating: 5.5/10

Karol Linetty

Linetty had a rough go of it, being taken off at the 19th minute as a result of an injury.

Matching Rating: Unrated

Przemyslaw Frankowski

The Jagiellona Bialystok winger had a valuable opportunity to impress Nawalka, given the unavailability of incumbent winger, Blaszczykowksi. He did show glimpses of technical ability, but failed to make a lasting impression. Given his youth, 22, and his quality of play for his club team, Frankowski is very much in the running to secure a depth position on the right side for Poland this Summer.

Matching Rating: 6.5/10

Rafal Kurzawa

Undoubtedly Poland’s best player. Midway through the first half, Kurzawa barreled down the left wing and sent a majestic through ball to Robert Lewandowski that the forward struck off the goal post. The pass was a real eye-opening play for national team fans, yours truly included. Kurzawa consistently showed pace and a willingness to attack the Nigerian defense throughout his 90 minutes of action. What might have been the most impressive aspect of the 25-year old’s game was the sheer force and velocity with which he delivered free kicks and crosses. He has definitely catapulted himself into Nawalka’s good books after this performance.

Matching Rating: 8.5/10

Jacek Goralski

Goralski came on for Linetty and played 71 plus minutes of intense football. The 25-year old midfielder was a thorn in the side of the Nigerians, routinely engaging in disruptive tackles to thwart oncoming pressure. His offensive game was nothing to write home about, but Goralski certainly is a presence. It will be interesting to see if he can out-duel the likes of Taras Romanczuk and Krzysztof Maczynski to secure the back-up DM role in Russia this Summer.

Matching Rating: 7/10


Forwards

Robert Lewandowski

Lewandowski had a pedestrian game overall, for his lofty standards, that is. As mentioned earlier, he did relinquish a chance by way of a beautiful pass from Kurzawa by tapping it off of the woodwork in the first half – a ball he routinely puts into the back of the net. In Lewandowski’s defense, he was not exactly provided the service that he is used to at Bayern Munich for most of the 66 minutes that he did play. Regardless, he did show good movement across the field and was routinely marked by multiple Nigerian defenders. It is intangible benefits like this that make him world-class.

Matching Rating: 7.5/10

Dawid Kownacki

Although Kownacki failed to score in 72 minutes of action, the Sampdoria starlet was a beacon of hope throughout the game. He routinely showed high football IQ, and was was involved in the few scoring chances that the Poles were able to muster. Long viewed as Poland’s “future number nine”, Kownacki did not look out of place at all on the senior stage, despite also being included in the U21 squad as well. Given his productive run for his Italian club and wealth of technical ability, it would be prudent for Nawalka to give this youngster the call-up this Summer that all Polish fans know is just.

Matching Rating: 7.5/10

Jakub Swierczok

Swierczok came on for Lewandowski and was almost invisible. There is not much else to say other than he will be hard pressed to leapfrog the likes of Kownacki, Arkadiusz Milik and Lukasz Teodorczyk to earn a spot on the World Cup roster.

Matching Rating: 5/10

Arkadiusz Milik

Made his long awaited return to the national team when he came on for Kownacki in the 72nd minute.

Matching Rating: Unrated

 

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