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Season review: Poland

Published: Tuesday 17 June 2014, 9.15CET
There was a new name on the Polish Cup and a new Robert Lewandowski emerged in a new-look league format, but it was business as usual for Legia Warszawa.
by Piotr Koźmiński
from Warsaw
Season review: Poland
Miroslav Radović (right) had a memorable campaign for Legia ©AFP/Getty Images
Published: Tuesday 17 June 2014, 9.15CET

Season review: Poland

There was a new name on the Polish Cup and a new Robert Lewandowski emerged in a new-look league format, but it was business as usual for Legia Warszawa.

A new league format did little to deter Legia Warszawa as Henning Berg guided them to title success, while Zawisza Bydgoszcz enjoyed a maiden triumph in a tense Polish Cup final.

Champions: Legia Warszawa
The capital club defended their title in fine style, with even a change of coach and league format failing to knock them off their stride. Jan Urban made way in December for Henning Berg, the first Norwegian coach in Ekstraklasa history, but it was very much business as usual. Legia hit the front in mid-September and they never looked back – it was some contrast to their UEFA Europa League travails, where the Polish champions lost their first five group games.

For the first time, after 30 matches the 16 Ekstraklasa teams were divided into two groups, with points halved before an additional seven games against the rest of the top-bottom eight sides. Legia's ten-point lead was therefore cut to five; no matter, six wins meant it was back up to ten by the end of the campaign. They actually lost only one game fewer than second-placed KKS Lech Poznań (eight); but Legia's all-or-nothing approach was rewarded with 26 wins.

Cup final: Zawisza Bydgoszcz 0–0 Zagłębie Lubin (aet, Zawisza won 6-5 on pens)
The biggest win in Zawisza's history, a first major trophy. In their third season under owner Radosław Osuch, a former agent, the Bydgoszcz outfit showed real promise as they secured a top-half league finish. Led by Michał Masłowski, one of the season's emerging talents, and Portuguese imports Bernardo Vasconcelos, André Micael and Luís Carlos, they got their reward in Warsaw in a tense final against bottom club Zagłębie. Next term there will be another first: a European campaign.

"I wanted to take a penalty," said Igor Lewczuk, scorer of the winning kick in the final. "I felt good, although before the game we did not practice them. Our coach, Ryszard Tarasiewicz, was a great player so he knows which players to choose for penalties."

European places*
Legia Warszawa – UEFA Champions League, second qualifying round
Zawisza Bydgoszcz – UEFA Europa League, second qualifying round
KKS Lech Poznań – UEFA Europa League, second qualifying round
Ruch Chorzów – UEFA Europa League, second qualifying round

*Subject to final confirmation from UEFA

Player of the year: Miroslav Radović (Legia Warszawa)
Radović has been a key member of Legia's side ever since he joined ahead of the 2006/07 season, but 2013/14 was the 30-year-old's best campaign yet. The Serb was Legia's 14-goal top scorer from midfield, taking his tally to 48 in 218 matches since he arrived from FK Partizan – a record for a foreign player in the Ekstraklasa. Radović now has two league titles and four Polish Cup winners' medals to his name.

©PZPN

Dawid Kownacki

One to watch: Dawid Kownacki (KKS Lech Poznań)
A youngster already billed as the new Robert Lewandowski, Kownacki became Lech's youngest ever scorer against MKS Pogoń Szczecin on 21 February, aged 16 years and 344 days. "I will never forget that match as it was very unusual," Kownacki told UEFA.com. "I could not believe I scored but neither could I believe the result. We lost 5-1 and Marcin Robak got all the goals for Pogoń. I was happy because of the goal, but the result made me miserable."

Surprise package: Ruch Chorzów
To say the last few seasons has been up and down for Ruch would be an understatement. Under Waldemar Fornalik, they finished runners-up in 2011/12, earning their coach a spell at the Poland helm. In the meantime, Tomasz Fornalik assumed older brother Waldemar's position at Ruch but was promptly sacked with the club in free fall – under Jacek Zieliński they ended 15th, and only Polonia Warszawa's failure to get a top-flight licence earned a reprieve from relegation. In September, Zieliński was sacked following a 6-0 loss at Jagiellonia Białystok. In came Jan Kocian, and up went Ruch, rising to a third-place finish.

Leading scorer: Marcin Robak, MKS Pogoń Szczecin (22)

Relegated: RTS Widzew Łódź, Zagłębie Lubin

Promoted: GKS Bełchatów, GKS Górnik Łęczna

Number: 1,000
Legia became the first Polish team to record 1,000 Ekstraklasa victories at GKS Piast Gliwice in March, winning 2-1.

Quote
"I will not criticize Arkadiusz Głowacki. He is the kind of player who does not calculate, who reacts instinctively. If you threw a brick or a stone to him he would still get a head to it to defend Wisła's colours."
Wisła Kraków coach Franciszek Smuda after Głowacki was sent off after 27 minutes against Legia in March

Last updated: 17/06/14 10.18CET

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