Cadenas: A Polish revolutionArticle
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BLOG: Wisla Plock transforming from slumbering giant to recognised VELUX EHF Champions League contender under the watch of their Spanish coach

Cadenas: A Polish revolution

Have you ever heard of Tadeusz “Bonaventura” Kosciuszko. Outside of Poland not many people have. He's big in American history.

Once on a trip to Washington DC, I took a stroll through Lafayette Park, right opposite the “Casa Blanca”. I was intrigued by the four statues at each corner of the park. One was of the aforementioned “Bonaventura” a Polish general, who at great personal expense had travelled to fight against “Mad” King George in the American War of Independence. By all accounts, this man is considered one of the great strategists and tacticians of that war and is rightly remembered as a hero.

Unfinished article

Why you might ask am I discussing a Polish general in a handball blog. Because there is a revolution in Polish handball and it is being led by an immigré. Too long a slumbering giant in the shadow of a more illustrious VELUX EHF Champions League neighbour, Plock and Cadenas are a match made in heaven.

The height of a Napolean with the inspirational personality of a “Blood and guts” Patton, he pushes his troops to be better than they are. Perhaps he is not the master tactician and strategist of Bonaventura, and perhaps it didn't work out for him at FCB, but he obviously has something and there is no doubt that the Plock team are playing with a smile on their faces.

The team is ever-improving and this season have lit up the CL with some of their performances. You might be forgiven for thinking that Plock would be happy just with fourth place in the group and four wins against the two less experienced teams, but they have given the big boys some real headaches. They beat Barcelona and drew away to KIF. Flensburg could not quite shake them off for 50 minutes, eventually winning by seven.

They are a mirror image of their home arena, which looks unfinished due to only three sides having seating, so too are they the unfinished article. They are tenacious, imaginative, but don't always have the experience at the crunch moments.

A few eyebrows may have been raised at the start of the season with the purchases made by Cadenas. Gone were some of the bigger names and Manolo looked outside the big nations for his recruits. Another Romanian in Racotea, the Portuguese Rocha, Zelenovic ripped from the clutches of Celje and Coralles (a CL winner, let's not forget) just some of the players he has brought in. And he is giving youth a chance. Lots of his new recruits are in their early 20s and he has mixed this with some experienced players also.

All in all, the season is looking very sweet indeed for this team. Syprzak is unrecognisable from last season. If I may quote myself from a blog I wrote last year, I said:

“Syprzak is built like a tree but moves like one too”

Mea culpa, this boy has improved out of sight. He is root and branch vitally important to the way the team plays. It's like he has finally twigged how to play. That's enough of the tree jokes. Moving on to Montoro, he has shown glimpses of why Barcelona bought him a few seasons ago. Add in the ever reliable Jurkiewicz and the irrepressible Ghionea and this team has a lot of bite with its bark.

Flensburg beware

They play Flensburg this weekend in a match that will determine third place in the group and should results go their way, could see them end up in second place. Can you believe it?

And is there a better time to play Flensburg? They are for sure a team in major transition and the absence of Glandorf was keenly felt in their win at home to Besiktas. The flow of the Flensburg attack was not clearly in evidence and when you think that Gottfridsson, most likely, won't make this game, then they are really up against it away to Plock.

The win against Barcelona, something Flensburg hasn't achieved this season, will give Plock a lot of confidence. But you never know what you are going to get with them. The narrow win away to Alingsas points to a team that can dig deep, but also one that is not quite there yet. Roared on by some of the most vocal fans in CL, they have a chance. But strap yourself in for this one, we are in for a bumpy ride.

A win here and the “bonaventura” could continue. A loss and you would think they'll be outgunned in the next round.

Flensburg had better beware.

Cadenas will have his team primed and set to outgun and outfight their opponents.

TEXT: Tom O'Brannagain, ehfTV commentator