Andrzej Gomołysek believes these two title contenders have many improvements to make if they’re to go on and win the championship…
Wisła and Legia are two sides that encapsulate the unpredictable nature of the Ekstraklasa. So it was no surprise to see such a scoreline when the pair came face-to-face here.
The sides entered the game in very different moods: Legia on cloud nine after five wins in a row, eating up a significant chunk of the ground separating them from Korona Kielce and Jagiellonia Białystok at the top in the process (the pair of whom met at the weekend, sharing a 1-1 draw).
Wisła, meanwhile, had just lost in Poznań, and barely won against Cracovia in the derby. To make matters worse, Dutch coach Robert Maaskant decided to leave former Ajax winger Nourdin Boukhari on the bench for this match.
Instead, Biała Gwiazda lined up with Łukasz Garguła at trequartista, Tomáš Jirsák in centre-midfield, and Radosław Sobolewski mopping up behind them.
Legia coach Maciej Skorża lined his midfield up in a similar centrally-aligned fashion; Maciej Rybus at the heart, Ivica Vrdoljak mopping up behind him, and Miroslav Radović and Sebastian Szałachowski flanking the foremost two attackers.
Wisła hit the ground running, and attacked their guests from the off. Maaskant was using Jirsák as a playmaker, and although the Czech international put in a decent performance, his passing was as frustratingly inconsistent as it has been all year. Likewise, he’s not one to control the flow and tempo of a game either.
The home side were reliant on Jirsák for creativity for most of the game because Garguła didn’t show any of the quality fans have come to expect from him – so I guess with that in mind, at least Jirsák was there when his team needed him.
Legia did a good job defensively, and resultantly, started to gain possession of the ball – reversing the 60:40 possession stat in Wisła’s favour.
But Legia’s perky patch didn’t last long. Patryk Małecki and Andraž Kirm soon began creating a lot of wind on the flanks – aided by Sobolewski destructing each counter-attack attempt. His counterpart, Vrdoljak, on the other hand, was left flustered by the wave after wave of home side attacks.
Although the Croatian was occasionally helpful in the middle, he offered the widemen little help in covering the flanks. This created lots of one-on-one/two-on-two situations, generating the aforementioned Wisła wing danger.
Nevertheless, last season’s runners-up took the lead out of the blue when, right before half time, Jirsak was spotted on the wing, and his inch-perfect cross was given the finish it deserved by Piotr Brożek.
Wisła started the second half with far more hunger, and benefited from a series of Legia and refereeing errors to score three more goals.
Legia coach Skorża tried amending his side offensively by switching Szałachowski for Maciej Iwański, but the away side only did some attacking of their own when Wisła eased off at 4-0.
By and large, Legia lacked clear goal attempts because of good defensive play from Wisła: the back-four stepped up in quality compared to other recent performances. But, if they’re to be considered true title contenders, they must be more consistent in attack.
As far Legia, it’s well known that their offence is mainly based on a band of talented individuals (the same can also be said for Wisła). However, they’ve performed solidly in defence so far, this aberration aside, and had conceded just two goals in four games before making the trip to Stadion Miejski im. Henryka Reymana.
To avoid such a hammering in future, Legia must buck up their ideas in attack, and ensure their midfield doesn’t again neglect its defensive duties in a manner akin to the way it did on Friday evening.