It is back, finally. Although opening the spring round of football with two evening games at the same time with two big candidates for Polish championship involved against different rivals may not be the best of decisions from the league’ board, both matches were good to watch and Ekstraklasa kicked-off in some style. Six-goals thriller in Krakow where Cracovia drew with Legia Warszawa and dramatic win for Wisla Krakow in Gdynia against Arka were maybe too much for other ties to match in terms of emotions as other games generally were rather dull than interesting. Don’t be worried though, only better things to come then. Here are Five Things we learned from first spring round of Ekstraklasa.
- Wisla is strong, very strong. And to be fair, they may only grew stronger. When I watched their game with Arka, although that ended in narrow victory, I saw team full of confidence, tactical awareness, patience and class. Looking at the backup Robert Maaskant has in his team… that makes Wisla the strongest candidates for the title, even though they are not leaders yet. No weaknesses – alright, defence had few bad moments but they had only two games they played together and will build on that in next matches. Midfield has two strong leaders (Wilk and Sobolewski), positive creators (Melikson, Sivakov, Garguła, Jirsak), good wingers (Małecki, Kirm) and the only worry Dutch manager of Wisla has is the striker. Genkov had a fairly good game but his position is uncovered that well as others are – Żurawski is old and slow, while Rios is unproven in Ekstraklasa. But hey, I bet that all other teams would like to have the only headache like the one Maaskant has.
- Cracovia was extremely lucky to draw with Legia the other night but I predict that they will have a good run very soon and may have a minimal shout at saving their league status, despite being last in the table. The competition for the place in goal with Gąsiński did well to Kaczmarek who had some fantastic saves, and even three lost goals shouldn’t worry Cracovia’s manager, Jurij Szatałow – they played Legia who has now very good striker, played really electric football at times and it will not be that tough for them every time. Also Cracovia finally looks well balanced and organized, even in defence. Now the only thing they need is points – when they will grow in confidence, chances for staying up will get higher.
- Polonia Warszawa looked good against Lech Poznan week ago when they played each other in Polish Cup but today they struggled to get through Górnik Zabrze defence. Theo Bos may have learned his team how to defend against attacking and better opposition but his team has problems when they need to play in possession. Smolarek was anonymous today, Sobiech’s chances were limited and wingers did not offer too much – while it could be all down to good defence of their opposition, I’m sure they expect from Polonia to know how to break the rivals. Theo Bos may not be under big pressure yet, but if this element of his team’s play won’t get better any soon, Mr Wojciechowski may lose his patience. He is not known to have one anyway.
- Experts are pointing out that during Arka-Wisla game, only six Polish players were involved and I expect media to have a loud campaign against playing foreign players, how weak they are, how they ruin Polish football, limit chances to our talents… The truth is that they are not the ones to blame and if I had to point out the ones who are responsible for it, it’s media and coaches. For years of making heroes out of average players, creating the pressure on clubs to overpay for them, over invest in them, not focusing on youth development – surely now when Polish clubs have much better scouting webs they see they can have something better or the same for less money, they shouldn’t be blamed for that. It’s simple budget management and if the spare cash will go on the youth teams, why should we worry about that? Surely good things to come from that…
- Lech has not woken up yet from their winter snooze and even that cold shower in Braga did not help much. Surely, winning with Widzew was important thing and got them closer to the top but it was rather unimpressive victory, thanks to a single goal from Jakub Wilk. Widzew had good start and maybe should be ahead but when Lech took the lead Bakero’s boys had no idea how to kill the game and just tried to get the ball as far as they could from their own box. Resting Stilić was wise, also Murawski finally had better game but that was rather dull showing from Lech. They need to rise their game, maybe try new formation with Ubiparip and Rudnevs – it may be doubtful though, coach already said that they are similar players and may be unable to perform alongside each others. It’s a big worry for Bakero, current form of Lech – the sooner he finds the solution the better.