25 kwi 2012

The Cup win brings back life to the Legia side

"The road to the Polish championship is not shorter even by an inch" - claimed joyous Maciej Skorża after seeing his team comfortably defend the Polish Cup title. It may not have been as dramatic and emotional game as the one witnessed later in certain Spanish city, but Legia's traveling contingent along with players and staff won't care. 

The first thing this triumph may give to Legia is confidence, obviously. With just three games to play, or three finals as Skorża puts it, there is nothing that should have stopped them from making it a legendary season, the one fans waited for so long. Despite many problems - selling best players in last days of winter transfer window, another row on the supporters-board line, poor form of the expensive replacements (Blanco and Novo) - Maciej Skorża did one hell of a job to make not only a team that is winning but also is watchable.

Of course, as proved during their loss with Lech, the more complete teams, the ones with enough talent and discipline, can cause them a lot of troubles if not only shut the door just before Legia's face. If that happens in the Ekstraklasa, then certainly it will be repeated by better teams on their way in the European cups. After tonight's 3-0 victory over Ruch Chorzow, they will aim to improve this season's achievement of qualifying from the group stages of the Europa League.

Maciej Skorża once again turned to the players that were not exactly giving him an experience (like Novo against Lech Poznan) but those that he knew so well, those who were given a bigger chance at Legia during his tenure. We could see him playing youngsters like Wolski, Kucharczyk and Żyro in favor of the likes of Radović even, but once the fall in results was witnessed, Skorża was once again putting his trust in the older ones. But tonight it was the young Żyro, celebrating new four-and-a-half long contract who made an assists, scored and also was vital throughout the final match in Kielce. He put a man of the match performance only to give Skorża more reasons to believe that above everything he needs in the remaining games of the season, is energy.

Three remaining games are huge challenge for Legia and despite beating Ruch comfortably in two last games - 2-0 in Ekstraklasa and today's 3-0 victory - the chances are equal in the league, as one-point gap in Legia's favor is not enough with the quality of the games awaiting both teams. Ruch is playing three clubs from the bottom (ŁKS, Lechia and Cracovia), two of them at home, while  Legia is yet to face Jagiellonia at home, Lechia away and end the season with vital clash with Korona in Warsaw. In each game, Skorża may have doubts over the result - not only because of current season's specifics.

After all, Legia's poor form in the league was showing more weaknesses after impressive start to the 2012 - out of last six Ekstraklasa games, they have won only once, against Ruch. Hardly a championship form, yet Skorża must build on the momentum after impressive cup final performance - where the defence was as solid as they were over the course of the season (letting in just 15 goals), while attacking players were fast, rampant and creative, with some fine passing introduced with each minute their confidence grew. Ruch was only a shadow of the team we see in the league and Waldemar Fornalik looked like a doomed man even before half-time whistle has gone off. Legia was too much of the challenge for them.

When Skorża won the Polish Cup last season, his team went on to repair the league damages by winning four out of last six matches that improved his and club's position. Now there is needed nothing less than 100% record in remaining three games - it will be interesting to see how much of joy from the dancing and chanting team he will restore against Jagiellonia, Lechia and Korona, clubs that are well known from frustrating their rivals recently. He will need the free spirit and creativeness once again, fluidity must be at its best too, if Legia is to make it a historic double. With that cup win, they are on the right course, just days after drifting away with defeat to Lech - at least fans will notice that Skorża is the right man for the job, even when the crisis comes.

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