Tomek Chodorowicz

The Esktraklasa, Poland’s Premier League, is short of a few things, namely good players, well organised clubs, and importantly money. While the league is being overrun with problems, clubs’ are facing corruption charges, and the Polish national team is performing badly.

However, all this seams to be being overshadowed by an exciting league finale which is keeping Polish fans on the edge of their seats. With just two rounds left, this year’s chase for the Polish league title is more interesting than it has been for the past few years. The defending champions, Wisla Cracow, are one point ahead of Lech Poznan and Legia Warsaw, and slight favourites too.

The prize for finishing first is not only the title, but also Poland’s only place in the Champions League qualifiers. After Michel Platini’s reforms for Europe’s most prestigious football competition, clubs from weaker leagues have a better chance of making it to the group stage. That makes it possible for this year’s champions to be the first Polish team to do so in over 13 years, and with that would come not just prestige, but also much needed income.

While Wisla Cracow and Legia are permanent favourites and are touted as serious title contenders each year it didn’t look so halfway through this season. For most of this year’s competition it seemed that Lech Poznan would be able to claim the championship, and the only team able to stop them would be Warsaw’s Polonia.

Lech, enjoying a great run in the UEFA Cup, were playing amazing football under the lead of charismatic manager “Franz” Smuda (who, according to Polish media, might replace Gordon Strachan at Parkhead if Celtic fail to win the SPL crown) and their way to the title seemed to be an entirely sensible conclusion for most Polish fans to draw.

At the top of the table however, Lech became careless. After beating Jagiellonia 1-0 on home soil, they lost their magic game and begun dropping easy points on a regular basis. That’s when the Polish “Old Firm” caught up, and the race began all over again.

The most crucial clash took place just one week ago, when Legia went looking for points in Cracow. After a truly boring game, revealing the weakness of Polish football, Wisla emerged with the precious three points courtesy of a 1-0 win. This weekend, all three teams won their games, and their remains one point separating the “White Star” from Cracow and the rest.

The pressure on the top candidates should bring out their best display in the remaining two games. Legia should easily sail past their final opponents, Lech should too, but, with the title theirs to lose, it is up to Wisla’s players whether or not the title stays in Cracow. 

Related Articles: