Ekstraklasa 2016-17, Game Day 29: Cracovia & Wisła cheer as Playoffs near

Patryk Małecki scored Wisła Kraków's one and winning goal in their penultimate game before the Playoffs (Maks Michalczak/Wisła Kraków)
Patryk Małecki scored Wisła Kraków’s one and winning goal in their penultimate game before the Playoffs (Maks Michalczak/Wisła Kraków)

While the Ekstraklasa Playoffs are around the corner, the penultimate game day of the regular season offered a very positive outcome for the two Krakow-based teams.

Cracovia on the road to recovery

A complicated game awaited Cracovia last weekend away in Białystok. Jagiellonia is not only the current Ekstraklasa leader but also the second best attack of the league, and they won their four previous home games scoring 14 goals, for only two conceded… The mood was set. But in a game expected to be dominated by Jagiellonia, Cracovia did actually more than only defend and chase the ball. They fought hard against one of the best playing team in the league. The Pasy created almost as many close goal chances as their opponents while also remaining very solid and disciplined in defense. In addition, Cracovia goalkeeper Sandomierski showed great skills – as often – to help his side keep a clean sheet.

Despite having all the odds against them, Cracovia emerged in a game where few observers expected them to sink. Disappointing goalless tie for the home fans and for Jagiellonia, however, this point earned is crucial for Cracovia in their fight against relegation. They’re still far from being saved, but after their disastrous series of one win in 15 games, these two consecutive unbeaten games feel like a breath of fresh air. May the streak continue.

Next on their plate, the last game of the season before the Playoffs. A home clash against another season giants: Legia Warsaw.

Wisła remain inflexible at home

The White Star welcomed Zagłębie Lubin for their last home game of the regular season, with the target to win in order maintain the pressure on Lech Poznan at the fourth spot. Zagłębie Lubin is a well organized compact team and hard to move. Wisła didn’t manage to beat them in their last two meetings, but this time things developed differently. Wisła took and kept the control of the game and the possession. While they dominated most of the game, they were ineffective in putting their goal chances on target. The trend improved after the break, but then they faced another challenge called Martin Polacek – Lubin’s Slovakian goalie – who prevented them from scoring a good couple of times. Wisła fans could finally celebrate shortly after the hour mark when Patryk Małecki scored from a close range. A relief and a fair reward for their efforts. But this is when the visitors finally started to play and be dangerous, after being kept under control during most of the game. And they got really close to equalizing, but this time they bumped against an inspired Wisła goalkeeper. Former Celtic Glasgow goalie Lukasz Zaluska saved his side with some brilliant last minute saves, to secure the win for his colors.

With this 1-0 final score, Wisła Kraków consolidated its fifth spot in the league and earn the status of “team unbeaten at home in 2017” in the regular season. On a wider picture, this brings Wisła to 12 consecutive home games unbeaten. Impressive.

Next weekend, Wisła will travel to the current league bottom Górnik Łęczna. A tricky game since Górnik is on survival mode and urgently need points. And a special meeting against former Wisła coach Franciszek Smuda who won – among others – the championship with Wisła in the 1998–99 season.

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