The Poland defence's footballing telepathy
Friday, June 24, 2016
"Sometimes that's just how it is in defence – one player gets a feel for another," said Michał Pazdan, as he and Poland defensive partner Kamil Glik spoke to EURO2016.com.
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Mainstays of one of only two sides not to concede in the UEFA EURO 2016 group stage, centre-backs Michał Pazdan and Kamil Glik played a major role in defending Adam Nawałka's side's goal. Once denied entry to the Poland national-team camp by a hotel receptionist, Pazdan is now showing a none-shall-pass attitude to opposition strikers.
"It was back in 2007 when I was a Górnik Zabrze player," the Legia Warszawa man told EURO2016.com. "It was my first call-up, and I came to the hotel and said I was here with the Polish national team
"I was not very well known back then and – I must admit – I did not have my kit on. The man at reception told me not to make fun of him and to go back where I came from. He only believed me after I showed him my ID."
The situation is different now. Polish fans have been effusive in their praise for the 28-year-old's performances in France, and he is rightly proud of their achievement as they prepare to take on Switzerland in the last 16.
"Seven points from our group is a great result," he said. "If we had been offered that before the tournament, we would have been very happy. We are definitely satisfied with the first round – not just the defenders, but the whole team's defensive work.
"When we played Germany and Northern Ireland, we were in complete control. We were very well-organised and that was the key at the back."
His working relationship with central-defensive partner Glik has been exemplary. "Sometimes that's just how it is in defence – one player gets a feel for another," Pazdan said. "We complement each other, and during matches we are always communicating, giving suggestions."
Switzerland next in Saint-Etienne on Saturday, and the plan remains the same. "We have seen their games – they keep the ball very well and they have some really good players," Pazdan noted. "It's the last 16, we have to be extremely focused. Tactics and preparation will be crucial."
Torino captain Glik is expecting a rigorous test too, telling EURO2016.com: "They have some good players in midfield in Granit Xhaka, Blerim Dzemaili and Valon Behrami, as well as Haris Seferović up front and good players at the back. They work well together."
However, having kept three clean sheets, Poland are aiming for another. "You could even say it has been four matches without conceding, because of our last pre-EURO game against Lithuania [a 0-0 draw], although that was a friendly so perhaps it doesn't count," said Glik.
"Either way, it is three or four. We worked hard in the training camps ahead of the EURO. We put in some hard, painstaking work. We repeated a number of training drills on movement, over and over. That allowed us to build up an automatic understanding among the defence and midfield.
"The whole team has improved on this front. And it's nice to see that this hard work is paying off at such a crucial time."