In Pole position: The miracle of Warsaw

By ADA ADAMCZAK

LEGIA WARSAW’S dream will will go on.

One of the biggest surprises in this week’s European action saw Polish underdogs Legia win their last Champions League 1-0 against Sporting Lisbon to book a place in the Europa League.

This was a dream that started in August when Legia won their way into the group stage of the Champions League.

This was the first time in 20 years that a Polish team would be able to play in a group stage of the strongest competition in world football.

The dream looked dead when the groups were drawn. Legia landed two giants Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund and the two classes better Sporting.

It seemed like a group in which Legia would be the easy boys to beat.

The first game was a great example on what are the differences between Legia and other clubs in the group.

The miserable defeat against Borussia could not have been a worse start for the team from the Polish capital. The aspect which could be considered even worse than a score itself was the manner of the defeat.

As much as Legia then lost their second game, the style could be considered more satisfying. The change of the coach seemed like a good idea.

Not only the style in Champions League changed but also the situation in the Polish League got better.

After the defeat with Real Madrid 5-1 it was almost sure that for Legia it was the end for European football.

Yet the final three games gave Warsaw wings to be in the battle to stay in Europe.

A surprising draw with Real Madrid 3-3 and an incredible game with Borussia ended 8-4 gave the Poles a fighting chance.

The only way for “Militarians” was a win in their last game. Jacek Magiera, the coach of Legia, underlined in the conference before the game how important the game was.

He said: “How to play to win? Effectively in defence and as effectively in the attack. Most are glad that it will be a match for anything.

“We do not play for nothing but to remain in European competition. We appreciate our opponent but if we properly focus we can do this.

“ Sporting is a team very well balanced in attack and in defence. We know much about them but for us the most important is how we approach this meeting and process the tactical assumptions.”

It is important to say that not many people, even in my native Poland, believed that Legia could do this.

Yet Legia did their job. After the goal by Guilherme on the half four mark they defended well and they did it.

Magiera smiled: “It’s easy to realise something you very much belief in. We were not interested in whether we scored a goal in the first or the 15th minute. It was the plan and it was faith. It’s not magic, it’s not magic. It took a team.

“Its power lies in the fact that one works for the other. Robust, reliable work and faith in their own abilities.”

 

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