By: Matthew Shaw @shrevbwfc
Polish Football may not leap out at you when browsing through the European leagues but for me it leaps out from the page. Maybe it has something to do with marrying a Polish girl, but I found it a very interesting and fairly open league. Once you get the hang of the pronunciation and get to know some of the players and teams it can also be very exciting. Now, before I met my wife five years ago, I had only heard of Legia Warszawa, Lech Poznan and Wisla Krakow due to various forays into European competition. Now the famous Poznan bounce is seen on the terraces around Europe.
The Polish league, known as the Ekstraklasa, has seen some very talented players come through the ranks in recent years. The likes of Robert Lewandowski made his name at Lech Poznan before Borussia Dortmund snapped him up. Jakub Błaszczykowski made his name at Wisla Krakow before Dortmund (again) recognized his talents.
There are currently three players in the Polish leagues from British shores: Tom Hateley at Slask Wroclaw, who’s father Mark played most notably for the Rangers, Monaco and AC Milan. Scottish full back Barry Douglas calls Lech Poznan home and Pawel Abbott is currently with Arka Gdynia in the Polish second tier.
In the last ten seasons, the Ekstraklasa has had five different winners: Legia Warszawa (3) Wisla Krakow (3), Lech Poznan, who are the current Champions, (2), Slask Wroclaw (1) and Zaglebie Lubin (1).
This seasons League table at the winter break, which runs from the 21 of December until the 12 of February, sees Piast Gliwice five points ahead of Legia Warszawa at the winter break on 45 points after 21 games with Cracovia Krakow a further four points behind in third place on 36 points. Last season’s champions Lech Poznan sit in sixth place with just 28 points after a Europa league campaign saw their league form suffer.
Could the Ekstraklasa have a sixth different winner in eleven seasons with Piast Gliwice aiming to win their first championship in their 70 year history? Or can one of the Leagues giants, Legia Warszawa claw back the five point deficit in the second half of the season. It’s certainly one to keep an eye on.