WarSAW, Poland. October 26 (PSN) – The LOTTO Ekstraklasa has seen already thirteen rounds of action, with a current league table podium looking overall very differently than what most fans had predicted originally at the beginning of the season.
Polish Champions Legia Warsaw were the favourites to keep league domination, with many hesitant on believing that any other teams will be able to overtake them, especially a newly promoted side. However, because of an early season slump, this saw the capital club drop from the podium in favour of three others – Lech Poznan, Gornik Zabrze and Zaglebie Lubin.
Lech Poznan are currently on top of the Ekstraklasa table after thirteen rounds and can thank a busy summer in the transfer market for that. The Kolejorz sold Jan Bednarek for a league-record £5.4 million to Southampton, and raked in another £5 million selling Dawid Kownacki and Tomasz Kedziora. They haven’t spent much of that money yet — their biggest acquisition so far is winger Niklas Barkroth from Norrkoping for £585,000 — and are thus very happily sitting at the top of the league table with a hefty transfer surplus. According to the oddsmakers at sportsbettingdime they are a 7/3 favorite (30% chance) to win this year’s Ekstraklasa championship, narrowly ahead of Legia Warsaw (4/1; 20% chance).
Season newcomer Gornik Zabrze have been a pleasant surprise early in the year, currently sitting second with six wins and only two losses. They are actually level on points with Poznan (23), but trail due to goal differential. Gornik also see themselves with the youngest roster in the league. While they possess a good worth ethic and speed, they still overall lack experience, very often looking only upon to their 33-year-old Spanish top goal scorer Igor Angulo for the answers in tough moments.
Zaglebie Lubin, who are also on 23 points are another unexpected challenger whom nobody had picked to play this well. The club has started to see some remarkable results under the leadership of Piotr Stokowiec, whom currently continues to be the longest serving coach in the Ekstraklasa. Lubin like Gornik could keep up their stellar pace, but with a lot of football left to play, skeptics will cast their success as an anomaly. Maybe Jakub Swierczok is the real deal. Maybe Igor Angulo’s better than a goal-a-match pace will keep up and he’ll break all kinds of league records and propel Gornik Zabrze to the top of the table.
Meanwhile, defending champions Legia Warsaw, whom did not have a solid start to the season and have been plagued by problems of their own, still see themselves somehow in the title race. At first struggling to live the Ekstraklasa grind after having lost their top player, Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe whom moved to Olympiacos this summer, Legia have perhaps finally managed to overcome their midfield troubles lately and the recent scorelines may be a result of that. The clubs used the €2.5 million that Odjidja-Ofoe’s departure brought in to acquire striker Cristian Pasquato from Juventus, as well as Poland international midfielder Krzysztof Maczynski from Wisla Krakow. In addition, Legia also saw changes on their sideline, with new head coach Romeo Jozak — who presided over the success of Dinamo Zagreb – manning the bench this year. All that shake-up seems to have somewhat settled the team, whom have gone from a side in turmoil lurking near the bottom table, to now having moved up all the way to fourth place, still making them a viable title contender.
Right now all the eyes are on the two small clubs, Gornik and Zaglebie, the outsiders trying to go up against the Ekstraklasa’s most wealthiest clubs. The question now remains whether they can continue their impressive form and potentially even overshadow their much grander rivals all the way to season championship. More likely, however, is that Legia Warsaw will get back on track, or Lech Poznan’s frugality and talent development will be rewarded.
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