4 maj 2012

Matchday 29 - the reaction

Despite dramatic finish to the season that still have not settled the championship in the Ekstraklasa, the results forced several nervous reactions mainly in Krakow and Warsaw. The biggest story today in Poland is the fall of Legia - despite press treating it with a dose of unpredictability, Skorża's team wasn't playing well recently, being without a win for a month. 

As they failed again against ambitious Lechia in Gdansk, the 0-1 defeat was only a part of their miserable day as only later the chairman of the board, Mariusz Walter, put in his resignation. That might be a very first formal step to selling the club from ITI, the media company, to whoever comes with the offer. It's very hard to assess the situation at Legia - despite winning the cup and enjoying good season in Europe, Skorża had to cope without three important players sold this winter (Rybus, Komorowski and Borysiuk). Those who came in (Blanco and Novo) didn't perform well enough, weren't a breakthrough but even despite poor recent form, the expectations were high. Now they are fourth and even Skorża describes his team's chances as mathematical only before the final battle. Despite signing extension to his deal recently, he may be into even stormier summer than the last was for Legia and himself - when there was replacement prepared and until the very last day he had to look for players. Now there might be no money available with several issues needing solutions inside the squad.

Much more happier place is Poznan today, where yesterday Lech had nervous evening of missed chances, only for Artiom Rudnev settling the score against Podbeskidzie with a late penalty. That put Lech back into the title race and continued their miraculous form marked with seventh win in eight games. Mariusz Rumak is the man who led the revolution as more direct style suits players who weren't too convinced about Bakero's passing game. What is most important for them is that after very tough months, Lech looks a happier place and will host European football next season - despite several changes coming in this summer, Poznan was finally the place it became famous four on the continent. The stands were full, fans were loud and the team attacked relentlessly for much of the game. Even selling Rudnev will not be regarded as a big blow now as other players stepped up with their performances, while Rumak is keen to promote youth and give them a chance at all cost - yesterday Mateusz Możdżeń played as a right back, despite being midfielder for much of his career, for example.

Ruch Chorzow is the unexpected team in the top four, yet only if the pre-season predictions will be taken in notice. In last 29 games they were very consistent performers and Waldemar Fornalik has put together a fine team on a very low cost. Whether he is as sure that the championship will come remains unknown, Fornalik was rather silent despite his side's comfortable win at relegated Cracovia yesterday (2-0). Once again those who shone through-out the campaign stepped out and made the damage - Marek Zieńczuk with a fine volley and Aleksander Piech with a perfectly-timed header. Hard work is the key for Ruch as they approach the final match day - despite often struggling against bigger rivals, their challenge is low key again as they face Lechia, already safe in the bottom half of the table. Lechia have defeated Legia but it is in doubt that they will cause as much problems away from home and the pressure will be on Ruch to perform and win.

Meanwhile, Śląsk Wrocław snatched their second win in two games, only their fourth league win in 2012 but that was enough to move them to the top of the table. Now they are going to Krakow to face Wisła, who is without much of their defence, as manager Michał Probierz suspended several players for unsporting, unprofessional performances in 0-2 defeat in Zabrze to Górnik. That will help Śląsk but their away form in 2012 is poor and all of the players will need to step up. In yesterday's 3-1 win over Jagiellonia only the score was comfortable - they lacked fluency, defended for much of the game and only three set-pieces well taken by Śląsk's captain Sebastian Mila (who was suspended recently for unsporting behavior) gave them the chances, converted twice by Przemysław Kaźmierczak and once by Rok Elsner. With experimental back four, Śląsk will now probably turn to what gave them many wins and manager Orest Lenczyk will try again to surprise their rivals with his rotation and tactics.

Yesterday it was Tadeusz Socha, nominal right back, who played as a winger, though his performance was far from best. The most important issue is how Śląsk will manage the tiredness of the players in just three days separating both days - for what is worth, the game in Krakow will be played to familiar crowd as long friendship between Wisła and Śląsk supporters is seen anytime they face. That is why Krakow and Wroclaw are preparing for celebrations on Sunday, though Probierz is keen to ruin the day with young players that will try to prove themselves before Wisła's revolution this summer.

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