Gut that Paulo Sousa is not yet able to speak Polish, there is a small remaining chance that not everything that is criticized about him will get through to him. He is a quack, optionally also a charlatan or a dreamer. The coach of the national team was treated with niceties of this kind in the past few days after the 1: 2 defeat against Slovakia. The greetings came from former players, coaches or officials.
Whether Jerzy Dudek, Tomasz Hajto or Zbigniew Boniek, pretty much everyone who has put on the red and white jersey of the national team in Poland has something to say about Sousa. And mostly that’s not a good thing. Sometimes he doesn’t have enough members in his coaching staff who understand both Polish and Portuguese, then he nominates the wrong people and, of course, puts them in the wrong position. Anyone who thinks there is a considerable degree of defeatism in Polish football these days is certainly not wrong.
As exaggerated as the criticism may appear in detail, that Poland is playing against Spain this Saturday (9 p.m. in the FAZ live ticker for the European Football Championship, on ARD and on MagentaTV), it can hardly be denied. The opening defeat increased the pressure, also because it came against “the weakest opponent in the group”, as Robert Lewandowski said afterwards. That might have sounded disrespectful at first, but it couldn’t be completely dismissed in view of the upcoming opponents Spain and Sweden.
The disappointment is justified, as the Poles had calculated a lot at this European Championship. This is not least due to Lewandowski, the world footballer. Anyone who has a soloist of such rank in their own ranks automatically believes in their chance. Especially since Poland only failed in the last continental competition on penalties against eventual winners Portugal. But as reliably as Lewandowski scores in the Bayern shirt, he is often dissatisfied when he plays for the selection of his home country. His appearances are reminiscent of those of his predecessor Lionel Messi, who in Argentina also lacks the support of his often brilliant club colleagues.
Unlike in Munich, Lewandowski not only has to score goals for Poland, in the best case he should also prepare them right away – and if possible, also prevent the opponent’s. The defensive failed twice against the Slovaks, and the fact that Grzegorz Krychowiak was thrown off the field in the middle of the second half after his second yellow card did not necessarily help to improve the team’s performance.
So Krychowiak, an experienced midfielder, will be absent against Spain. The former player of FC Sevilla and Paris Saint-Germain can hardly be replaced equally. More worries for Sousa. His signing in January was accompanied by great expectations. A former world star as a coach for Poland, that made the nation dream. But the hoped-for effect did not materialize, except against Andorra, Poland has not yet won a competitive game under his leadership. Lewandowski couldn’t change that either.
National coaches in Poland had already failed because of his dissatisfaction, most recently Jerzy Brzeczek, for whom a bad relationship with his most famous player was fatal. Brzeczek had to leave, on the advice of Lewandowski, as they say.
Sousa, who was said to have eccentric traits during his own active career, tried his first official act to get his sensitive exceptional talent. He drove to Munich and tried to talk to Lewandowski, it was a good one, as can be heard. Lewandowski alone is not enough to solve Sousa’s problems. The Slovaks isolated the striker with strict man marking, nothing similar is to be expected from the Spaniards, who go into the game as favorites. “We’ll have to improve,” says Lewandowski. Otherwise Poland is threatened with an early end in the preliminary round.