Lech Poznań vs Arka Gdynia: Polish Cup Final Preview

Puchar Polski

Tomorrow on May 2nd at 16:00 CET is the Polish Cup Final which will be held at the National Stadium in Warsaw between Lech Poznań and Arka Gdynia.  Rightbankwarsaw looks a little at what we can expect in the game.

If you live in the United Kingdom, USA, Germany, Canada, Argentina or Brazil, you can watch the games for free in Full HD at this address www.oz.com/pucharpolski  All you have to do is go through a quick online registration process.

It has been a long and eventful season for both of the sides who face each other at the National Stadium tomorrow.  Lech Poznań are the overwhelming favourites for the match in Warsaw.  Lech started the season badly under their former manager Jan Urban but, since Nenad Bjelica was appointed late last August the team has gone from strength to strength in the league and cup.  In 24 league games under Bjelica’s supervision Lech have won a total of 50 points, in the same time period only Legia Warsaw (50) and Jagiellonia Białystok (49) have been able to compete with them.

Lech under Bjelica have excelled in both defence and attack.  Their defence is the best in the Ekstraklasa with only 24 conceded in 31 matches, although recently some gaps have emerged – Lech have conceded two goals in two of their last four games – perhaps something that Arka can exploit.  In midfield Lech possess a wealth of options which allow them to play defensively with Łukasz Trałka and Abdul Aziz Tetteh as holding midfielders, or more attackingly with players such as Darko Jevtić, Szymon Pawłowski and Maciej Makuszewski.  Up front the club from Poznań have the young, quick, Dawid Kownacki and the experienced and tough Marcin Robak who give two considerably different, but equally effective, options.  Perhaps the one to watch is their attacking midfielder Jevtić who has scored 8 goals and had 6 assists this season.  Jevtić possesses great vision and technique and is their offensive leader.

Jevtic 1

Darko Jevtić.  Photo: Monika Wantoła / watch-esa.pl

In comparison Arka Gdynia are the clear underdogs in tomorrow’s encounter.  Although they started the season well, the high point perhaps being their 3-1 win at Legia Warsaw in August, the club have been on a downward spiral ever since.  When Bjelica was appointed at Lech for example, Arka were 5th in the table and 5 points ahead of Lech, since then they have been bottom of the division – picking up only 19 points from 24 games.  The drop in form forced the club’s board to replace Grzegorz Niciński, the coach who won promotion with Arka last season and got them to the Cup final, with Leszek Ojrzyński three weeks ago.  Niciński was doing his best with quite a weak squad, but tactical gaffes by the manager meant the club decided to call on Ojrzyński, a coach who has plenty of experience at Ekstraklasa level, to save them from the drop.

Arka are a rather workmanlike side.  Their defence is quite porous, with 51 conceded in 31 Ekstraklasa games this season – a total which is the third worst in the league.  This should allow Lech plenty of space to find the goals they need tomorrow.  Arka’s midfield and attack is slightly better than its defence, the star of the side probably being the tough, industrious, Austrian central midfielder Dominik Hofbauer who has scored 4 goals in all competitions this season.  Apart from Hofbauer Arka’s attacking midfielder Mateusz Szwoch possesses the skills to potentially threaten the Lech defence and up front the diminutive, canny Rafał Siemaszko has been a surprisingly effective striker this season with 10 goals in all competitions.  But if Arka are going to threaten Lech it will probably come from set-pieces, Ojrzyński is known for his focus on defensive organisation, long ball football and a dependence on set plays.  He seems to have come to the right club, Arka have scored 55% of their goals from set pieces in the league this season, by far the highest percentage for any Ekstraklasa club.

Hofbauer

Dominik Hofbauer.  Photo: Adam Piechowiak / watch-esa.pl

Lech then, should easily come away with the win tomorrow, something that gives them a chance to achieve their first league and cup double since 1984.  Arka on the other hand will be trying to get into Europe for only the second time in their history – the last time being when they won the Polish cup in the 1978-9 season.  The game will be watched anxiously by fans of Legia Warsaw, Jagiellonia Białystok, Lechia Gdańsk and Wisła Kraków.  They’ll be hoping for a Lech victory as that means the fourth club in the Ekstraklasa will qualify for Europe.  If the match goes according to expectations, this seems a very likely prospect.

Again, if you’d like to watch the match outside of Poland for free in Full HD you can do so by clicking on this link https://www.oz.com/pucharpolski .  Enjoy!

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