Polish football – the return of the Ekstraklasa
With Portugal being crowned champions of Europe just one week previously, there was barely time to breathe in Poland as the domestic season got underway just five days later with Wisla Plock taking on Lechia Gdansk in the season opener.
It promises to be an extremely interesting season in this year’s Ekstraklasa, not least because of Poland’s impressive performances during the Euros in which they bravely lost out on penalties to eventual champions Portugal, meaning that interest in the Polish football league will no doubt be higher than it has been for a number of years.
Aside from Legia Warsaw who are expected to dominate once again, there is a real feeling amongst fans that the rest of the league is extremely open and indeed anyone can beat anyone on their day. This was exhibited during the opening round of the season in which newly promoted Wisla Plock stunned big spending Lechia Gdansk 2-1, as well as the aforementioned reigning champions Legia Warsaw being held at home to Jagiellonia Bialystock. Elsewhere last year’s shock runners-up Piast Gliwice were trounced 5-1 away at Cracovia.
Which teams to look out for?
So who are the teams to look out for this year? Of course reigning champions Legia Warsaw are expected to once again be crowned champions, with bookmakers pricing them at odds on to pick up a second consecutive title. It also promises to be an interesting season for last season’s runners-up Piast Gliwice. Despite a stunning season in which they defied the odds to finish second, there is a feeling that they may struggle this season, especially after losing their coach just before the start of the season. A 5-1 defeat to Cracovia in their opening game will also do little to settle these worries. Elsewhere 2014-15 champions Lech Poznan are expected to challenge again after a poor season saw them nowhere near the summit of the table. There will also be much hope amongst Lechia Gdansk fans, with many people suggesting they could be the dark horses, especially having spent big over the summer.
Any potential transfer news?
Every season there is always a bit of a struggle for Polish teams to keep hold of their best young players, and the performance of many Polish based players in Euro 2016 is expected to make this even more challenging this year. Bartosz Kapustka of Cracovia who enjoyed a decent tournament with Poland is expected to depart any day now, whilst there are also rumours Wisla Krakow’s midfielder Krzystof Maczynski is off after some solid performances in the heart of the Polish midfield. Having said that it also seems there is money to be spent by the Polish sides as well, not least Legia Warsaw who will more than likely look to re-invest the money earned from Ondrej Duda’s big money move to Hertha Berlin.
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