Legia Warsaw stands on the brink of victory in the first leg of its playoff series with Leicester City. Here are a few reasons why.
How efficient was the Polish side last season?
In the Bundesliga, Legia finished seventh. In the Polish league, it finished third. “The [Polish] league was excellent last season,” Legia coach Maciej Rybus said. “I think we got the best out of everyone.”
As we noted above, Legia finished third in the Polish league last season, so it had some reliable performers throughout. The points total from those games put it squarely in contention for a berth in the UEFA Champions League.
Here’s how it fared in those games:
League champions • Legia Klub
• Maciej Rybus
• Adam Franjic
League runner-up • Lech Poznan
• Ruch Chorzow
• Zakaria Labyad (suspended)
• Kasper Schmeichel
League Europa 1st Division champions • Palatinate
• Bartosz Halak
League Europa 2nd Division runners-up • Legia Krakow
• Waldemar Sobota
• Michal Holec
First round Champions League
• Legia Warsaw
• Legia Warsaw
First round Europa League
• Kołoda Wźtionka
• Longolż, Wład
• Slask Wroclaw
• Podoziłka Prawa Płaszczyny
• Itar Zatyuska, Świecimysl
• Kołoda Krotów
How the team’s performance against FC Copenhagen
Away from home last week, Legia won its fourth competitive game of the season, but it was hardly smooth sailing. The championship of Legia Warsaw Football Club didn’t travel.
After suffering a 1-0 loss against FC Copenhagen on September 8th, first-year captain Tomasz Jodlowiec was removed from the line-up, with coach Maciej Rybus saying that his captain was “not a professional footballer.” Rybus was quoted in an interview saying that Jodlowiec needed to “improve and become more professional.”
The next week, Jodlowiec missed the entire competition, serving a ban for racism. A month later, Jodlowiec was dismissed for reportedly giving out trade secrets in the team hotel to a female journalist. In December, UEFA banned the club for a minimum of four years, and fined the club 1 million euros. Jodlowiec is currently facing a possible prison sentence for his involvement in the civil war in Bosnia during the 1990s.
Leicester, you’re next
Leicester City is a team of superstars. Kasper Schmeichel is one of the finest goalkeepers in the world. Jamie Vardy is a prolific striker, a team captain, and even has the privilege of wearing the famous No. 9 jersey.
Yet the hype around the team seems to deflect attention from one of its most important players, Ben Chilwell. Chilwell was not a regular starter under Claudio Ranieri, but was one of the surprise players of the season under Craig Shakespeare. Chilwell has four assists this season, and led Leicester’s small group of Englishmen on the field when it beat Manchester United 2-1 on Sunday. He was often the best player on the pitch, as usual. But Chilwell got no credit for his play when James Maddison, Vardy, Christian Fuchs, and Harry Maguire all played better in the air.
He is only 18 years old, and has no worries about national team selection. And yet Leicester continues to struggle. Its Premier League record this season does not inspire confidence. It has scored only five times in 10 games in the second half of the season. This is not a good sign.
Leicester, win or lose against Legia, go into the second leg very close to elimination, based on its current form. Leicester will need its superstar players, particularly after the firing of an angry manager last week. And remember, this is the same team that went out of the Europa League in the first round last season.