RKS Raków Częstochowa – Match Report vs. Qarabağ FK (26/07/2023)

The run-up to the UEFA Champions League’s fiercely contested group stage is usually a time for tropical encounters between teams with players eager to prove themselves in the world’s premier club competition. RKS Raków Częstochowa and Qarabağ FK clashed at the home of the Polish champions, with a second half full of goals. The Polish and Azerbaijani sides played a game that was conducive to playing the good sport we love so much, and the game was evenly contested for the full ninety minutes, with a superb strike from Sonny Kittel deciding the outcome. In between, we were treated to some interesting individual displays that added to the magic of this stage.  


  • A1 – Very good, could play higher
  • A2 – Strong potential to play higher
  • B1 – Good, strong player at level
  • B2 – Potential to be a strong player at level
  • C – Average for the level, rewatch
  • D – Below average in this match

Vladan Kovacevic

  • Nationality: Bosnian
  • Age: 25
  • Date of Birth: 11/04/1998
  • Club: RKS Raków Częstochowa
  • Career: FK Sarajevo, FK Sloboda Mrkonjic Grad (L) and RKS Raków Częstochowa
  • Position: Goalkeeper
  • Preferred Foot: Right

Formed in his native country, Vladan Kovacevic has leaped to one of the top Polish clubs in recent years and has established himself as one of the most desirable goalkeepers in Europe’s lesser-rated leagues. It is no wonder that he has been linked with several good clubs, such as SL Benfica, and in the match against Qarabağ FK, he lived up to the fact that his name has appeared several times in the international press.

With a tall stature and a morphologically ectomorphic profile, the goalkeeper of 1.92 meters had a quiet match against the Azerbaijani team – except for the goals suddenly conceded after seventy minutes. Having been asked to play more offensively than defensively, Vladan showed his ability to be an essential element in the team’s offensive manoeuvre by helping his colleagues in the defensive line to eliminate the opposition’s pressure, either through short passes or long passes to the back of the opposing midline. He always showed comfort with the ball at his feet and only in moments of high stress – the last ten minutes of the game – did he shy away from looking for the short game from the back. In addition to his technical quality on the ball, it is also worth noting that his body was always well-orientated to follow up possession.

In moments when possession was on the other side of the trenches, Vladan always kept communication with his teammates in mind, both to help in the composition of the defensive line and to correct moments of defensive permeability. More than once, he proved to be a fast player in controlling depth, preventing the opponent from attacking the back of the Polish defenders. In addition, in shooting situations, he was able to control the trajectory of the ball and showed speed when it fell. Good command of goalkeeping technique was also evident through movement, positioning, lowering the centre of gravity, placement of the upper limbs, and a constant ability to see the ball.

Rating – A1

The interest of several clubs in Vladan Kovacevic is not new and the display against Qarabağ FK explains why. He is a complete goalkeeper who is already performing well. In addition, he is only 25 years old, which gives him time to evolve and increase his performance in each game. Considering SL Benfica’s need to have a goalkeeper of another level, I believe that betting on Vladan would be seen as a good step. In addition, he is already familiar with the European environment. A move to a team of the same level as the Portuguese club would be ideal for the Bosnian.

Bogdan Racovițan

  • Nationality: Romanian
  • Age: 23
  • Date of Birth: 06/06/2000
  • Club: RKS Raków Częstochowa
  • Career: Dijon FCO (Y), FC Botosani and RKS Raków Częstochowa
  • Position: Centre-Back
  • Preferred Foot: Right

A native of France, Bogdan Racovițan trained in his hometown of Dijon before moving to Eastern Europe, where his ancestors came from. He arrived at the top of the Polish game at the beginning of last year and Bogdan still had a lot of pedalling to do before he became one of the defenders to watch out for at RKS Raków Częstochowa. With a morphologically mesomorphic profile and a height of 1.87 meters, the young Romanian established himself as one of the best players on the pitch against Qarabağ FK.

In the moments when possession was on Qarabağ FK’s side, Racovițan was generally characterized as a centre-back capable of clearly executing the vast majority of defensive principles required of a player of his position, such as: executing containment – lowering the centre of gravity and orienting the support -; he did not make the mistake of trying to intercept without first containing; he always protected the central corridor in moments of containment; he respected the orientation of the defensive line; he knew how to move up and down the field according to the principle of the covered/uncovered ball; he was aggressive in duels and individual chases. He also showed a good speed of movement, both in defensive transition and when he had to make doubles or recover defensively.

On the ball, Bogdan was also a competent player. RKS Raków Częstochowa took the initiative to play out from the back and that requires their defenders to be able to execute correctly in possession. The young defender oriented his body correctly made the reception forward and showed he could break the opponent’s pressure lines, especially through vertical passing. When he had no options up front, Bogdan opted to play safe in attacking cover and valued possession rather than looking for direct play. He also had a few standout moments with his long diagonal passes to the less congested side of the game – usually the left lateral corridor.

Rating – A2

If we look at the fact that Bogdan Racovițan can correctly execute most of the actions required of a centre-back, we can put his potential at an interesting level. However, it is necessary to see him against an opponent who constantly exposes him in moments of organization and offensive transition to be able to see his performance in practice. Based on the game against Qarabağ FK, it is possible to affirm that the young Romanian would be a good signing for a team of the level of SC Braga, as he can make differences with the ball and being competent from a defensive point of view.

Ben Lederman

  • Nationality: Polish
  • Age: 23
  • Date of Birth: 08/05/2000
  • Club: RKS Raków Częstochowa
  • Career: FC Barcelona (Y), IMG Soccer (Y), KAA Gent (Y), Hakoah Amidar Ramat Gan and RKS Raków Częstochowa
  • Position: Centre-Midfielder
  • Preferred Foot: Left

What a story! Ben Lederman’s journey has not been the easiest: he became a La Masia wonderkid, was banned by FIFA, and had to return to his native USA, and even played in the Israeli third tier. Fortunately, at the hands of RKS Raków Częstochowa, he is still in time for a successful conclusion.

Offensively, Lederman has the feet of someone who spent a few years in Barcelona. With the ball, he is an interesting player: he uses his weaker foot to receive forward; he has the agility to dribble in short spaces; he has quality in the vertical pass; he uses the short pass to connect with his team-mates – and does not discard the long pass -; he does not discard the mid-distance, especially on the edge of the opponent’s area. Against Qarabağ FK he did all the above. He climbed the ranks as he touched the ball more often during the game and benefited those around him. He improved his team’s collective play, as he was able to put calm during the confusion that arose throughout the match.

In defensive organization, he proved to be a player with a limited range of action, something that ended up attenuating his performance during the minutes he was on the pitch. Although he won two of the three duels he contested on the ground, there was a lack of aggressiveness and presence on the part of the young Pole.

He also struggled to defend his full-backs and forced Dawid Szwarga to replace him when the Azerbaijani team began to grow doubtful of the superiority (3-2) they were creating in midfield over Lederman and his partner. However, in the defensive transition, he showed his ability to run quickly backward and recover his position. In moments of high pressure, his task was made easier by the fact that Qarabağ FK rejected the central corridor and opted for the lateral corridors to get out to play – he still had credit for blocking his direct opponent through individual marking.

Rating – A2

Ben Lederman lacks a few magical powders to raise his potential, especially from a defensive point of view and in the way he appears more in the game. He knows how to do it, but he needs to do it more often – he needs to be able to break down the opposition’s pressure more often so that he has space to have the ball and then get more involved in the game. He is the type of player who would fit well in a team of AZ Alkmaar’s competitive level, as he would benefit from the Dutch team’s attacking football and the fact that he is accompanied by another element in midfield – playing in Dawid Szwarga’s 3x4x3 limits him due to the defensive tasks he has to fulfil.

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