Half-season Ekstraklasa review

The Ekstraklasa heads into the international break having completed 15 rounds, which means that half of the regular season is already behind us.  There have been some great goals, exciting matches, unexpected managerial changes as well as dire 0-0 draws and mistakes a plenty.  Here at Rightbankwarsaw it’s time to look at the winners and losers of the season so far, to do so I’ve invited a number of Polish journalists and football analysts to give us their opinions on the spectacle they’ve witnessed.

Ekstraklasa table

The Table so far – source: T-mobile Ekstraklasa

Marek Wawrzynowski, journalist TVP sport and Kopalnia

1) Team of the season so far:

Legia Warsaw – It’s the first time in a long while that we’ve had a team which has enough players to compete with good results in both the league and the cups. And the good thing is, that they can even win with substitutes and young players etc, like they did recently vs Ruch Chorzów. I think they know, that for the moment it’s enough to stay at the top of the league, and when it comes to the last stage of the season, when they won’t play in the Europa League, they will have the strongest team and will be able to pull away from the rest of the pack.

2) Player of the season so far:

Sebastian Mila – We’ve seen an amazing change in him.  Last season I was sure that it was the end for Mila.  Tadeusz Pawłowski (Sląśk Wrocław’s manager – Rightbankwarsaw) has achieved miracles with him.  Painful miracles.  Pawłowski told him last season he wouldn’t be captain anymore, and put him on the bench.  When Mila lost his place in the side he understood what was expected of him and started to work very hard.  Pawlowski realised that Mila was the leader of the team, so when he plays poorly in games, the whole team plays badly too. Now Mila is a different player, he really puts in a lot of work and has become the leader that everyone knew he was.  He’s probably playing his best football since his time at Groclin Dyskobolia when he scored his famous goal vs Manchester City. And of course we should mention his wonderful cameo against Germany…

Mila scores in Poland’s famous win over Germany in October

3) Manager of the season so far:

Henning Berg (Legia Warsaw) – There is no one manager who stands out.  We have a group of managers who are doing very well –  Berg, Pawlowski and Michał Probierz (Jagiellonia Białystok –  RBW).  We also shouldn’t forget about Smuda who is doing a really good job at Wisła Kraków, Kamil Kieres at Belchatow and Górnik Zabrze’s Robert Warzycha. But Berg is not only a leader, but also shows that you can be the best in Poland and have really great results in Europe.  Under Berg some good players have become great and useful for the national team. Maybe Żyro’s ”explosion” was expected, but with Broź, Kucharczyk or Jodłowiec that wasn’t necessarily the case.

4) Team that’s disappointed the most so far:

Lechia Gdańsk – The organization at the club is a crime.  Their aim is definitely not to win or build the club but just to make business deals.  What the owners are doing could really destroy the structures of the club.  I hope that doesn’t happen, because I really love the football atmosphere in Gdańsk.

Lechia

Lechia Gdańsk (in the green and white shirts) have had a torrid season so far

5) Predictions:
Title winners: Legia Warsaw
European places: – Lech Poznań, Śląsk Wrocław
Relegation: Zawisza Bydgoszcz, Lechia Gdańsk
Polish Cup winners: Lech Poznań

Przemysław Zych, journalist, Gazeta Wyborcza

1) Team of the season:
GKS Bełchatów – They’re an incredibly efficient side.  They’ve become the Ekstraklasa version of Legia in Europe.

GKS

They may have few fans but GKS Bełchatów have done extremely well this season so far

2) Player of the season:

It’s too difficult to pick out one stand-out player.

3) Manager of the season:
Henning Berg (Legia Warsaw) – For the way he’s handled the squad and the fact he’s managed to rotate effectively.  He’s played a lot of players from the reserves, who despite the fact they aren’t that successful at that level, fit in well in the Ekstraklasa.

Berg

He’s certainly no charmer but Berg has done extremely well at Legia

4) Team that’s most disappointed:

Zawisza Bydgoszcz – Their owner Radosław Osuch blames referees but he should blame himself, he’s made too many personnel mistakes.

5) Predictions:

Title winners: Legia Warsaw

European places: – Lech Poznań, Śląsk Wrocław

Relegation: Zawisza Bydgoszcz, Ruch Chorzów

Polish Cup winners: Legia Warsaw.

1) Team of the season:
Legia Warsaw –  are really nice to watch when they care. They should be winning every game but they sometimes give opponents the chance to cause a shock. Anyway, I really enjoy watching Śląsk Wrocław. They press really well and it’s great to see Sebastian Mila leading his side’s defensive effort.

2) Player of the season:

Depends on what you like in a footballer.  Semir Stilić has brilliance and flair, Michał Żyro pace and power, but I’d go with Legia’s Tomasz Jodłowiec. Every game he gets closer to being the complete midfielder. Anyway, I’d also suggest you to watch Maciej Gajos of Jagiellonia Białystok closely. He’s a very versatile, creative midfielder.

Jodłowiec

Tomasz Jodłowiec, the complete defensive midfielder?

3) Manager of the season:

Michał Probierz (Jagiellonia Białystok) –  Yes, I know Tadeusz Pawłowski has done a good job and normally I’d nominate him, but I think this is the season when we see the narrative surrounding Jagiellonia’s manager is changing.  It’s clear that he still takes himself a bit seriously but now we recognise that he really is a talented coach.

probierz Jaga

Michał Probierz is doing a great job back at Jagiellonia Białystok


4) Team that’s disappointed the most so far:
Ruch Chorzów is the obvious choice. They’ve gone from third place last season, to second from the bottom. They look out of their depth but they do have talented players, especially in attack. Wisła Kraków sometimes play beautifully but with the potential they have, they should’ve won at least two more games.
5) Predictions:
Title winners: Legia Warsaw
European places: Lech Poznań, Śląsk Wrocław
Relegation: Zawisza Bydgoszcz, Ruch Chorzów (although I hope not)
Polish Cup winners: Lech Poznań

Daniel Markiewicz, journalist sport.pl and Krótka Piłka

1) Team of the season:

Śląsk Wrocław – They really play football the right way, this when added to their creativity means they often shock their opponents.  Everyone knows what team Słąsk will put out but still they have problems with stopping them play.  Śląsk, along with GKS Bełchatów, are one of two sides who make the absolute most of what they possess.

2) Player of the season:
Flávio Paixao (Śląsk Wrocław) – He’s the person who makes Śląsk tick. Due to a Lech which is playing well below their potential and a Legia who aren’t really taking the Ekstraklasa seriously, there really can’t be any other choice.  The Portuguese player has done an excellent job of replacing his brother and his sudden form means that for the moment he’s the best ‘transfer’ of the season so far.
Flavio

Flávio Paixao has already scored 11 league goals for Śląsk this season

3) Manager of the season:

Kamil Kiereś (GKS Bełchatów) – At one point harshly fired by Bełchatów, when given a second a chance he’s quickly proven that he fits GKS like a glove.  The players he possesses do not necessarily have the greatest technical ability but Kiereś manages to get the absolute maximum out of them, he’s brought in young players like Łukasz Wroński and, apart from the match at Lech Poznań, has created a side which can ‘kill’ a match via a sound defence.  The only side who scored more than one goal against the newly promoted side was Lech.

Kieres

Kamil Kiereś’ Bełchatów have been ruthlessly efficient this season

4) Team that’s disappointed the most so far:
Lechia Gdańsk –  The only other option would be Lech Poznań but Maciej Skorża hasn’t been there very long, and they also will benefit from the divide of points at the end of the season.  Lechia however have made illogical decision after illogical decision which means they’ll be the subject of ridicule for a long time to come.

5) Predictions:
Title winners: Legia Warsaw
European places: Śląsk Wrocław, Lech Poznań
Relegation: Zawisza Bydgoszcz, Ruch Chorzów
Polish Cup winners: Lech Poznań

David Jankowiak, football analyst, Krótka Piłka

1) Team of the season :

Śląsk Wrocław –  In second place so far they play an adventurous style with strong centre-backs, a reliable midfield and promising attacking players with the best left foot in division (Sebastian Mila), apart from Wisła’s Semir Stilić.  Imagine if Tadeusz Pawłowski managed a club with the sort of financial resources they have at Legia?  ‘Ted’ looks to be the right man in the right place, always attempting to fit all the pieces together to bring the best out of his team.  Jagiellonia Białystok, GKS Bełchatów and Górnik Zabrze have also impressed in some matches.  Legia are the strongest side in the league, but they clearly do not take the Ekstraklasa seriously, at least for the moment.

2) Player of the season:

Semir Stilić (Wisła Kraków) – Stilić’s arrival has supplied Wisła with an abundance of quality in attacking terms.  Their midfield lacks diversity and sometimes cohesion as well, but Stilić is their main attacking outlet, responsible for a huge share of goals.  With Łukasz Garguła’s dip in form and no decent wingers, Wisła is reliant on his form and great through passes.

Bosnian Semir Stilić has scored some amazing free-kick goals for Wisła this season

3) Manager of the season:

If only European competition was taken into account, it’d be Berg.  Otherwise my call would be Tadeusz Pawłowski (with Kiereś and Smuda close). Pawłowski has managed to deal with Śląsk’s players and forge them into a strong team, while being able to make use of his key men.  Heck, even Mateusz Machaj looks like a footballer again.  It musn’t be forgotten that he made some good signings (Celeban, Pawełek, even Danielewicz), but Pawłowski has clearly shown his managerial abilities.

Pawlowski

Tadeusz Pawłowski’s Śląsk are really playing some decent stuff this season

4) Team that’s disappointed the most this season:

Lechia Gdańska –  Pogoń Szczecin and Lech Poznań may lack some quality, but Lechia are a complete and utter mess.  This could have been expected to some extent, but they have regressed on a match-to-match basis.  They lack motivation and flow and their coach seems to have completely lost the plot.  It’s clear however that the board is most at fault for the crisis at the club.

5) Predictions:
Title winners: Legia Warsaw
European places: Śląsk Wrocław, Lech Poznań
Relegation: Górnik Łęczna, Ruch Chorzów
Polish Cup winners: Legia Warsaw

Thanks to all those who answered the questions.  Hopefully an exciting second half of the season lies in store for us.

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