Legia Warsaw

‘There’s No Better Stage For Legia To Turn Things Around’

Legia Warsaw will be determined to rectify their stuttering domestic form with a positive result against Leicester City, according to Polish football expert, Ryan Hubbard.
More on this story...

- Legia Warsaw travel to meet Leicester City in the UEFA Europa League on Thursday
- The 8pm kick-off on Filbert Way will be the two sides’ second Group C meeting
- Ryan Hubbard provided a view on the Polish champions and their current form
- A positive result against the Foxes could turn their season around, he believes

The Polish champions enter Thursday’s UEFA Europa League group stage fixture occupying second place in Group C, with six points to their name ahead of matchday five at Leicester City Stadium.

They have struggled to replicate such results in the Ekstraklasa this term, however, and parted company with head coach Czesław Michniewicz in October, with Marek Gołębiewski stepping up to take charge of the first team.

Speaking to LCFC TV ahead of the 8pm kick-off on Filbert Way, Hubbard explained how Legia have undergone a difficult spell of late and will therefore place added significance on trying to take something from their trip to Leicester.   

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Czesław Michniewicz
Czesław Michniewicz

Legia's head coach Czesław Michniewicz was replaced by Marek Gołębiewski last month.

“They’ve won one game since they beat Leicester in Warsaw,” the journalist began. “And that was against a fourth-tier side in the cup. In the league, they have gone seven games defeated in a row, which is now a joint-club record which dates back to the 1930s.

“Things have snowballed and spiralled and gone from bad to worse. They have sacked their coach and replaced him with one of his assistants. That’s not really done a lot for them, not much has changed. Confidence is at an all-time low.

“They don’t really look like turning it around any time soon. It’s difficult to pinpoint it to anything. If they do qualify for European competitions, Polish teams tend to prioritise that a little bit, because of the financial incentives, which are huge.

“But normally, you’d expect that to be rectified by now and league form return to what it was before – and that still hasn’t happened. We saw at the weekend, Legia lost 3-2 to Górnik Zabrze and they were 2-0 down at half-time.

It was a massive scalp when they won in Warsaw. A lot of Legia fans were not expecting that at all. So, to go to England and get a victory would be a huge victory for them.

Ryan Hubbard Polish Football Expert

“They brought it back in the second half, within eight or nine minutes, they had equalised. You sensed there was a bit of renewed urgency about them, and they may actually be turning it around and then, all of a sudden, they conceded in the 96th minute and heads just seemed to drop again.

“It’s never happened with a Legia team before, but they are mentioning relegation. They are 17th out of 18th in the Polish league and they are 23 points off top spot, which after 13 games is unheard of really.”

Both of their European victories this term came courtesy of 1-0 wins in their opening two games – away to Spartak Moscow and then at home to Leicester, when Mahir Emreli struck the decisive blow during the first half at the Polish Army Stadium.

Since then, however, Legia have lost back-to-back games to Napoli, defeated 3-0 in Naples ahead of a 4-1 reverse last time out. Emreli again found the net to hand his side the lead, but four second-half goals proved decisive.

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Legia Warsaw
Legia Warsaw

Legia were heavily beaten by Napoli at Diego Armando Maradona Stadium.

“There did seem to be a confidence,” Hubbard continued. “There did seem to be a bit of overconfidence. Since that moment, it has just fallen off a cliff. I think a lot of the fans are leaning on that if they are going to turn things around, they are going to have to do it in a big style now.

"There’s no better stage to do it on than going to a team that won the Premier League a few years ago. It was a massive scalp when they won in Warsaw. A lot of Legia fans were not expecting that at all. So, to go to England and get a victory would be a huge victory for them.

“The concerning thing is that, yes, they did win those first two games, but in the two games against Napoli – they lost both by three goals. All of sudden, they went from top of the group to needing a result against Leicester to stop them dropping out of Europe altogether.

“After the Leicester game, there was a sense that they could actually qualify for the knockout rounds of the Europa League and even top the group. Now that has been toned down a bit and finishing third to get through to the Conference League would probably still be a success at this point.

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Cezary Miszta
Cezary Miszta

Cezary Miszta kept a clean sheet when the two sides last met in Warsaw.

“The big one for Legia will be against Spartak when they meet in Warsaw in a few weeks. The third-place spot will probably be between those two teams. But if they could get their form back on track with even a point against Leicester, that would make a huge difference to probably the whole season.”

Hubbard also provided an update on the condition of Legia’s squad, which, similarly to Leicester’s, will be missing some key players. But while they are set to be without extra defensive options, there is more positive news at the other end of the pitch.

He added: “They’ve had a couple of injuries. Maik Nawrocki, who was probably their best defender on the night in Warsaw, he’s out injured at the moment. He is probably going to be a big miss at the back. Goalkeeper Artur Boruc is still out injured; he won’t be making the trip to Leicester.

“But they have got the return of Luquinhas, who was missing in the first game, he is probably their most creative player. He could cause a few problems. Ernest Muçi, who did play against Leicester, he’s started to regain a bit of form and scored at the weekend.”

All times GMT.

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