Polish club football may not be anywhere near the best in Europe, but it sure is one of the most competitive and interesting.
The T-Mobile Ekstraklasa provided a fascinating climax to the season and now the second-tier Liga 1 is doing the same. Going into the 34th and final round, four teams are fighting it out for the two promotion spots, the places which have been vacated by relegated LKS Lodz and Cracovia Krakow.
For those who do not follow the game below Ekstraklasa level, the names Piast Gliwice, Zawisza Bydgoszcz, Pogon Szczecin and in particular Kolejarz Stroze, might not sound very familiar. None of these clubs have won anything, though Piast, Zawisza and Pogon are no strangers to the highest level. And any two of these three will be more welcome in the top flight than Kolejarz who until recently, not even many Polish fans had heard of. Not surprising because this village of 3,500 inhabitants is not easy to find on the map, lying in the middle of nowhere in Malopolska voivodeship. With its tiny stadium and crowds to boot, Kolejarz would not exactly add much in the way of atmosphere to the Ekstraklasa.
In fact up until the penultimate round of matches, there was even a possibility that next season’s Ekstraklasa could have found two such minnows in it. Because throughout the second half of the season Termalica Bruk Bet from another village, Nieciecza, ironically not far from Stroze, had looked like very strong promotion candidates. Many neutral supporters must have breathed a sigh of relief when they blew their chances, losing at home to Stroze.
The most likely to progress is Piast Gliwice who lead the table and wind up their programme with a home game. However that final game will be against the team immediately beneath them Zawisza Bydgoszcz, who will be desperately going for all three points to secure their own promotion. It promises to be a real battle-royal.
Meanwhile the third candidate Pogon Szczecin will also be going for three points at Arka Gdynia, whereas Kolejarz Stroze must fancy their chances strongly at home to already-relegated Olimpia Elblag.
If anyone is interested the Polish website ’90 Minut’ provides a detailed analysis of the dozen or so permutations which will determine this issue.
Suffice to say that on Sunday, Polish football fans will be sitting on the edge of their seats right up until the final whistle blows in the three matches which involve the four promotion candidates.
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