We present you Lech Poznan, the Polish 2014 runners-up, thanks to the profile put together by colleague Davide Matteoli, journalist and editor-in-chief at Italian portal 'Calcio dell'Est', webportal about Eastern European football in Italian language.
Founded in 1922, Lech Poznan’s debut in Polish top-flight dates back only after WWII (1948). The club’s colours are white and blue and its nickname is ‘Kolejorz’ – meaning ‘the railman’.
Together with Legia Warsaw, it is one of the most popular clubs in Poland although the titles collected in their history are less than the ones won by the capital’s club.
Lech Poznan has clinched the national title only 6 times and most of them were achieved in the 80’s, the most successful period in club's history. In continental competitions, they have never managed to clinch any trophy and, on the contrary, Lech have always struggled. Their debut was a punch in the face as in 1978-79 they were defeated 10-2 by Duisburg (GER). The best achievements in Europe so far are the eight-of-finals of the European Cup (now Champions League) reached three times: 1991 (eliminated by Olympique Lyon – FRA), 1992 (IFK Göteborg – SWE) 1994 (Spartak Moscow – RUS).
Their worst moment was at the beginning of the 2000’s when they were relegated from Ekstraklasa (the Polish top-flight). They came back to Ekstraklasa in 2003 and in the season after they had to struggle to reach safety.
The last title dates back to 2010 and, together with the Supercup that followed, it’s their last important achievement.
Lech Poznan plays in the outstanding facility of Stadion Mjeski (Municipal Stadium, known also as INEA Stadion, from the sponsor) and it was one of the Euro 2012 stadia (Italy played two games, against Croatia and Ireland in the group stage).
The capacity is 43,269 people. During international games, it is reduced to 41,000.
Last season Lech started off badly however, in the second part after the winter break, they managed to exploit mistakes committed by rivals (Gornik Zabrze and Wisla Krakow) and ended up as runners-up 10 points behind Legia Warsaw.
It is quite probable that Lech Poznan will have to make do without his most important player during the Europa League campaign: 1991-born striker Lukasz Teodorczyk, a much sought-after item in the transfer market. The young forward is injured at the moment (he broke his knee ligaments). Same goes for left full-back, Kebba Ceesay (Gambia-born with Swedish passport) who will be back only in November.
The starting XI that coach Mariusz Rumak shall field against Nõmme Kalju shall be as follows.
The goalkeeper will probably be the main doubt for the 37-year-old gaffer. The regular is Krzysztof Kotorowski, the veteran goalkeeper who shall be at his last season (he is also 37 years old!). Kotorowski is aiming at the appearances record with Lech’s strip, however last season he was alternated with Bosnian Jasmin Buric in the goal. According to local press and recent friendlies, Buric should be given a start.
On right full-back position there will be without any doubt Tomasz Kedziora (born in 1994) replacing Ceesay. The central defenders pair will be made up by captain Hubert Wolakiewicz (at Poznan since 2011) and by the new summer signing Maciej Wilusz, replacing Marcin Kaminski who is already a sale item. If the latter will manage to fix his contractual issues with the club, he might take his place back into the defence as last season. On the left full-back position there will be Panama player Luis Henriquez, very good in the offensive phase.
The midfield pair is close-knit and made up by Lukasz Tralka and Karol Linetty.
The former is a very expert footballer and his task is mainly to break the opposition build-up. The latter is a 1995-born and rising star of Polish football with the task of kicking off the build-up. Notwithstanding his young age, Linetty is the player to be feared most due to his ability to read the game and create dangerous situations. He has already collected 5 caps with the Polish national team. A lot of important European clubs are keeping an eye on him and recent rumours connected the young nr.7 to Tottenham Hotspurs.
The offensive flankers are the Hungarian Gergö Lovrencsics and Szymon Pawlowski. Lovrencsics was purchased during summer 2013 transfer window from Lombard Papa (HUN), he plays mainly on the right flank but could also be deployed on the left. He is good at one-on-one’s with the direct opponent and he is able at serving interesting assists in the box. Pawlowski also arrived in 2013 from Zaglebie Lubin (POL) and he is very good at setting up his teammates.
Finnish international, Kasper Hämäläinen, occupies the trequartista position. Due to Teodorczyk’s injury, he’s been moved up front in the experimental position of second striker or falso nueve . Darko Jevtic , who reached Lech since few weeks on loan from FC Basel (SUI), has covered Hämäläinen’s role behind the strikers’ line. If Teodorczyk shall recover from his injury, Jevtic will leave his place to him: Teodorczyk was Lech’s topscorer last season with 20 goals.
Mariusz Rumak reached Lech Poznan in 2011-12 season as assistant coach and was nominated head coach in February 2012. Even though he has not managed to rise any trophy yet, his side has shown a very pleasant football. His favourite formation is the 4-2-3-1 whose game is developed mainly thanks to Linetty’s game vision in front of the defence and Finnish Hämäläinen’s plays. The former TPS-grown has scored 9 goals and served 11 assists. Rumak also encourages the flank plays as both the role players are good at one-on-one’s and at crossing. However, if Teodorczyk will be missing, crossing will be a rather pointless tactics.
by Davide Mattioli for Rumori di Spogliatoio
translation and editing by Angelo Palmeri
Curiosities (by The Stig)
· Lech Poznan Hooligans won ’’MMA hooligan tournament’’ in Riga. In final they won CSKA Moscow hooligans and before that IFK Göteborg and Ukrainian hooligans.
· Hooligans of Lech Poznan are well known for their unruly behaviour.
· Henrik Ojamaa was really close to join Lech Poznan last year, but champions Legia Warsaw made him a better offer.
· Lech has played two times in UEFA Europa League group stage. Last time was 2010/11 season what was very succesful for them, they made two draws against Juventus, won Manchester City at home but in playoffs they lost to Portugese team Braga.
· In last year Europa League qualification, Lech Poznan lost to Zalgiris Vilnius.
· There is only one player from Lech who has played together with an Estonian player, he is attacking midfielder Gergő Lovrencsics who played in Papa-Lombard together with Sander Puri.
· Transfermarkt has valued Lech Poznan for 13,18 million pounds, theire opponent Nõmme Kalju has been valued for 3,52 million.