Former coach of the Polish national team before the match against Austria. “We must respond to aggression with aggression”

Former coach of the Polish national team before the match against Austria. “We must respond to aggression with aggression”

The decisive moment in the match against Austria will be when we will construct the action. Losing the ball too close to our goal may end in disaster. They are attacking like wildfire – warns Jerzy Brzęczek, former coach of the Polish national team.

After a great match, Austria lost to France 0-1 after an own goal . They will face Poland on Friday at 6 p.m. in Berlin. This is supposed to be a key match to get out of the group in Euro 2024. We talked to Jerzy Brzęczek, former coach of the Polish national team, an expert on Austrian football and a player of local clubs.

Dariusz Tuzimek: You played for several different clubs in Austria for over a decade, so you know the local football very well. On Monday evening, the Austrians gave the French a real scare, although they ultimately lost 0-1. Should we be afraid of the Austrians, with whom the Polish national team will meet on Friday?

erzy Brzęczek: Playing against such a strong team as France, they lost the match after an own goal, but they played absolutely without any complexes towards their rivals and bravely exchanged blows. They certainly did not manage to take advantage of this good field play right in front of the French goal, but after this match we are all aware that a very difficult and intense match awaits us on Friday. If anyone was under the illusion that it would be easy to get points here, they already know they were wrong.

The Dutch, whom we met on Sunday and lost 1-2, have very good players, but they certainly weren’t as aggressive and don’t have the same playing dynamics as the Austrians. Our representatives must be prepared that there will be a lot of hand-to-hand fighting, that there will be a lot of cards and that they cannot put their foot down. The Austrians take no prisoners in such clashes. We must also respond to our rivals’ aggression with aggression.

What is the greatest strength of Austrians? Because this is a very unpleasant rival: on the one hand, aggressive play in contact with the opponent, and on the other, almost constant pressing, which this national team has been famous for since it was rebuilt by Ralf Ragnick.

The great pace and aggressiveness of our rivals will decide the fate of the match. However, their constant corporate pressure is not insurmountable. The French have shown several times how to overcome it, although one must take into account the quality of Didier Deschamps’ team. And yet the Austrians played bravely one-on-one in many phases of the match. Please remember how many sprints Konrad Laimer did in this match! It was something impressive. At the same time, the Austrians did not play counter-attacks all the time, they kept possession of the ball and did not kick it out blindly. It will also be like that in the match against Poland. Breaking free from this pressure will be key. If this is successful, there will be a lot of space behind the opponents. It is important to have fast players and gain this space. But we don’t have as many fast players as the French. Nikola Zalewski is certainly fast, and among the strikers, Robert Lewandowski is the best sprinter. So even in this respect it is important that he is at the coach’s disposal.

What are the weaker points of the Austrian national team? Maybe the match against France caught your attention? When conceding a goal, left defender Phillipp Mwene was outplayed and this resulted in an own goal. But I don’t have to suggest anything, because analysts from Michał Probierz’s staff know it all.

Is the absence of David Alaba, the mental leader and captain of the team, a big problem for the Austrian team? This is certainly a huge loss for the Austrians. Both in terms of sports, because he is a great player, and in terms of mentality. He is their mental leader. He – despite the injury of breaking his cruciate ligaments – is with the team in Germany, supports his teammates during the training camp, encourages them to fight, he did not go on vacation, he sits on the reserve bench. So he decided. He asked the coach about it himself. This whole story shows how good the atmosphere in the team is for the Austrians.

How did the Austrian national team change during the work of German coach Ralf Ragnick, former coach of, among others, RB Leipzig and Hoffenheim? Ragnick – coming to Red Bull Salzburg in 2012 – introduced a new training system there. This original concept of his has been the foundation of all Austrian football ever since. Red Bull has raised not only players, but also coaches who teach football according to its philosophy. When he became the coach of the national team, he received, in most cases, players who had gone through his training system. These are people for special tasks that he invented. The coach requires them to run a lot and fight until they die. This is the basis.

How would you compare the strength of the Austrian national team to the Polish national team? Which staff has more potential? I rate the potential as 50/50. It is worth remembering that when I was the coach, we won against them in Vienna and drew in Warsaw. And then there were almost the same players, but today they are a better team, they have developed as a team. It looks like Friday’s match will be crucial. The winning team will have a great chance of leaving the group in third place. And if we win against Austria, it will give us a strong boost and then many things will be possible in this tournament.

So how to defeat the Austrians? The decisive moment in this match will be when we will construct the action. Losing the ball too close to our goal can immediately end in disaster. Because they are attacking like wildfire. We must organize ourselves and secure ourselves in such a way that we do not allow these counterattacks. Our staff knows this, but what matters is how the players implement it on the pitch.

The last question. When does Jerzy Brzęczek return to work? After all, I’m working all the time! (laughter).

But what I mean is not the role of an expert on TV, but a normal, bench role, a job as a coach? All in good time.