Keeping Score: Football, Formula 1 and a Winter Sports Preview

Going into December, a lot of sports are about to be given a time out. Football is one of them: Wisła Krakow might have lost the “Holy War” derby match against Cracovia, yet it still holds a three point lead over main rivals Legia Warsaw. Lech Poznań managed to close in after beating Zagłębie Lubin, which is groomed by current national and former Lech Poznań coach.

In Europe, Liverpool was knocked out of the Champions League. The team failed to win against Olympique Lyon in the fourth group stage game. The win over Hungarian side Debrecen in the fifth game therefore was not enough to save the Reds’ skin.

Michał Żewłakow and his side Olympiakos did excellent work in Alkmaar, keeping the Dutch champs to a 0-0 draw. The Greek side are now close to advancing in the Champions League. Because of Internazionale’s defeat in and against Barcelona, Russian side Rubin Kazan (with Rafał Murawski) moved into second place and also have good chances to go forward.

In tennis the season was traditionally closed by the ATP Masters, the non-official world championship. Everybody expected a grand final between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. However, Nadal was already eliminated in the group stages, while Federer had to concede against Nikolay Davydenko. It was the first time the world’s best tennis player had lost against the Russian, who would later win the tournament by defeating Juan Martin Del Potro.

The Formula One cars may have just stopped racing, but the talk in the paddock continues. Two questions are on everybody’s lips: Is Michael Schumacher going to return, only this time in a Mercedes seat? And who gets the last remaining seat in a factory team, the one next to Robert Kubica in the Renault F1 side? The list is mounting. The three main contenders appear to be Romain Grosjean (French, who was second driver for the second half of the 2009 season), Franck Montagny (French, with a lot of testing experience at Renault and Toyota), Heikki Kovalainen (Finn, already drove for Renault before moving to McLaren) and Ho-Pin Tung (a Dutch Chinese, who will bring Chinese sponsors and please the Dutch ones already connected to the Renault team).

And as we slowly move into winter, we can begin to see what’s happening on skis and skates in the run-up to the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada. Polish speed skaters are performing better and better as the Olympics draw near. In the men’s nautical mile, Konrad Niedzwiecki finished twelfth in the de Elite group, while Katarzyna Bachleda-Curus (Wójcicka) ended sixth at the same distance for women.

The men’s pursuit team finished seventh with only a second and a half from the podium. The women finished ninth. After three races, the teams that are in the top eight will qualify for the Winter Olympics. In the first Krakow Post issues of 2010, there will be a preview of the Winter Olympics and the Polish athletes participating.

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