Saturday, June 23, 2018

10 Observations from Poland – Russia as Group A Enters Nail Biting Final Round

Poland vs Russia drew 1-1For the starters, let me introduce this blog and myself. From now on, this column will feature regularly ten conclusions from any football match watched by me. Why ten? Let’s say, an arbitrary trend here.

Fans of Soccer News might be familiar with my name. I generally write about European features and tend to be neutral. Stop giggling at the back! As usual, it will be highly subjective and opinionated.

• Poland packed the midfield with 4-2-3-1 formation, while the Russians fielded the troops in 4-3-3 system with a devastating attacking trio of Dzagoev, Kerzhakov and Arshavin upfront trying to nullify the midfield threat of the home side.

• Despite parking men in the middle, Dick Advocaat’s side could still manage to take the upper hand of the match in terms of stats. They had a staggering 60% of ball possession with an overall passing accuracy of 84%.

• How that happened? That’s coz, the midfield trio of Shirokov, Denisov and Zyryanov, especially the later two had a rock solid impact on the game compared to the Polish counterparts. They relied from on short passes and kept the game ticking.

• Denisov had 118 touches throughout the match with a passing accuracy of 92%. His fellow teammate Konstantin Zyryanov had 79 touches with 96% passing accuracy. Compared to them were Dudka and Polanski who did well by their standards, but not ‘quite’ well to the Russian levels. Polanski had 54 touches with 89% passing accuracy while Dudka maintained 45 touches with 86% passing accuracy; both were substituted towards the end of the game.

• Russians like the previous match started off slowly encouraging the home side to dominate. Probably, what they try to do is soak the early pressure, take a measure of their opponents and raise their game according to the need. However, as the game progresses, they try to get a grip on the match. Once they do so, they are too tough to handle.

• Both the teams have problems at the back. In the first half, a slick passing move involving Lewandowski and Obraniak saw the Russian defence splitting into halves; only the goal was rightly judged off side. Also, on few occasions, the defence was not alert enough in clearing set pieces. Thanks to Malafeev, the Russian goalie those dangers were avoided.

Contrary, the home side was even less organized at the back. They were vulnerable against set pieces and eventually conceded a soft goal from a set piece movement only. Perquis and Wasilewski made 13 interceptions and 12 clearances between them, where as Ignashevitch made four tackles and 14 clearances alone in the match.

• Alan Dzagoev, who has only six months left in his current contract, has already alerted the media about his uncanny knack of finding the goal. Already bagged three in the tournament so far, you can expect him to get linked with few top clubs of Europe surely in the transfer market. Last night, he was vulpine enough to poke his head at the right time.

• The Russian lead was cut short in the second half via a stunning goal from the Polish skipper Jakub Blaszczykowski. He cut inside from the right with a sudden burst of pace and then fired home with a sweet strike with his left foot. Surely one of the contenders for the goal of the tournament.

• Frankly tell me, what’s wrong with Arshavin? This is not my concern. A section of Londoners were whispering that. Seriously, where this form was throughout the season? Arsene Wenger was left so frustrated that he had to send him to his home land for gaining more match time. He is in some mood here at Euro 2012. Already bagged a goal under his name, he was involved in five other goals in the form of assists.

• Finally, anyone expected this so called ‘easy group’ to provide such nail biting excitement? Anything can possible from here now. Russians top of the group faces bottom of the group Greece, and if Santos’ side manages a victory then they will level points with Russia. On the other hand, Poland playing so well might just get knocked out if they manage another draw against Czech Republic.

Follow Saikat Mandal on twitter @SMandal87 and share your two-penny worth opinion here. Debates, arguments, logic (rational & irrational) highly welcome.


Saikat Mandal



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