Lech Poznań, massively against the odds, beat Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk away thanks to a single goal from fine Manuel Arboleda diving-header. It was a huge surprise, mostly thanks to poor performances of late, losing three straight games in Champions League and drawing twice in the Ekstraklasa, and in all those five games scoring just twice. Why that happened?
It is hard to tell that transfers made in and from Lech Poznań decided about their fate in European competition. From the squad that won them Championship only Robert Lewandowski left and for four millions Euro to Borussia Dortmund. But it is the timing of the transfer that was decisive. When striker was sold, the club should already have other deals to replace him, prepared on the table. They were not prepared, they got desperate.
Lech signed Artur Wichniarek on free transfer after his disappointing season at Herta Berlin, relegated to second Bundesliga. He was... he is the striker that despite being 33-years old still can be hugely influential but as evidence show, on certain level and it cannot be called international one. Earlier they signed promising winger, Jacek Kiełb from Korona Kielce, but he was not prepared to break into the squad from first game. When the first game in Baku came, Lech Poznań had only unprepared Wichniarek to play as a striker in Jacek Zielinski's 4-2-3-1 tactic.
It is the time to stop moaning about transfer and their timing, and once again take the road of physically preparing the team to long (not so long in Poland) season. Jacek Zielinski promised that from the first game of the season, that is the game in Baku, Lech will be the same steaming machine that railed for championship in the last weeks of previous season. They were not. You could see it from the feeling of confidence in players head - wanting but not being sure of every move they made, every pass, shot and all of it. They were not prepared for the battle for gold mine, Champions League it is. No wonder they lost it in the worst possible matter.
Relegated to Europa League, starting the league, and finally making transfers. Good ones? From the first sight and on last season evidence, Joel Tshibamba should be useful but only at league level. But he was thrown on the deep waters of European football and got lost quickly. They signed Artjoms Rudnevs but former Zalaegerszegi player couldn't play until the group stage of Europa League. But will Lech reach it?
Maybe they are back to winning ways but most certainly they are still long way from being in top form needed to perform on bigger stage than Ekstraklasa. Problems didn't vanished with Arboleda goal, or one of Burić saves, they are still there - they need desperately a new defender, due to many injuries.
But the most important decision was to let Jacek Zielinski stay, even though the losing in Champions League qualifications. But it also shows that the board knows mistakes been made and it is not only coach fault, especially when it is down to finding Lech new striker.
It is surprising that Lech, despite buying not the right players and on right positions, still is in the battle for Europa League group stage and on the better position than their opposition, that is Dnipro. Best of luck to them, but it shows that success in Poland can be build on pure chaos decision making. Which is sad really but not that much surprising as Lech still being in Dnipro tie.