Ekstraklasa 2017/18, Game Day 11: Shared faith for Cracovia and Wisła

Cracovia defender Michał Helik scored his second goal of the season (phot. Cracovia)
Cracovia defender Michał Helik scored his second goal of the season (phot. Cracovia)

Rock-bottom Cracovia taking a 600km trip

Cracovia traveled to the Polish seaside to challenge Arka Gdynia. A breath of fresh air guaranteed at the Baltic Sea, but no time for tourism, since the Pasy are on an emergency mission to urgently get points.

Against last season’s Cup winners, Coach Probierz surprised with an unusually offensive lineup for an away game. It did not stop the home side from dominating, but his boldness paid off. Cracovia resisted quite well the repeated goals attempts and managed to keep the 0-0 at half time.

Defenders running the show

But after the break, the home side deservedly took the lead thanks to former Cracovia defender Adam Marciniak. The 29-year-old’s strong header on a corner kick gave his side the lead. His goal was the 20th Cracovia concedes in the league, adding up to their “poorest defense of the league” record.

Almost like a miracle, Cracovia equalized a few minutes later on their first attempt of the second half. Another defender, Michał Helik, scored his second of the season. A bit lucky to get the ball while on the ground, he cleverly used his agility to push the ball home and put his team back in the game.

The score remained unchanged. Cracovia booked a 9th consecutive winless game, but the point is extremely precious. Not enough to take them out of the relegation zone, but a courageous performance, ideal to boost the morale and keep Cracovia close to the league bottom competitors.

Goalless draw at the Reymonta Stadium

The day after, Wisła welcomed Jagiellonia Białystok for one of the weekend top clashes. Positioned 6th before the game, Wisła had a golden opportunity to move closer to leaders with a win. But they faced a tough opponent, positioned 4th, who failed last season to win their first ever Champions title, for only one missing point.

In their 4-4-2 offensive lineup, Wisła welcomed Brożek and Boguski back in the starting team. The home side ran the show like they’ve often been doing at home this season. Dominating in both halves, Coach Ramirez men had most of the goal chances and ball possession.

A sterile domination

While they had the (almost) full control, Wisła bounced against a strong opponent. Jagiellonia came to defend, and so they did well. The visitors lined up with only one striker – Sheridan – all alone up front. The Irishman often found himself in defense giving a hand to his teammates, leaving the entire team defending. Impressive disciplined performance, but a real challenge for the home side.

However, Wisła did manage to create goal chances and could have won the game. But they wasted so many of them, lacking precision, taking wrong decisions at key moments, or just too clumsy to hit the target. They almost paid their lack of efficiency with a late close goal attempt, but luckily Jagiellonia also lacked precision at that key moment. 0-0 final score, always a disappointing result (especially at home), but, looking at the game, Wisła paid their lack of precision.

A word with Cillian Sheridan (Jagiellonia)

Jagiellonia's striker from Ireland, Cillian Sheridan (phot. Jagiellonia)
Jagiellonia’s striker from Ireland, Cillian Sheridan (phot. Jagiellonia)

A quick chat with the friendly 1.96m tall striker after the game. The first Irishman to ever play in Polish Ekstraklasa shared his thoughts with me.

Cillian Sheridan: “It was a tough game. Wisła is strong at home, and it’s always complicated to play here. Adding that both teams locked the game pretty well, which did not leave much space to open up. The draw is fair, but I think that we could have won the game. The one-on-one chance we had at the end… shame we missed it.”

Krakow Post: Jagiellonia was flying last season and almost won the title, but this season start is a bit more rusty. How do you explain it?

CS: “We had a strong season start, but then we could not win for 4 consecutive games, before beating Legia Warsaw last weekend. And with today’s good point, I believe we are back on track. But overall, I feel this season start is unpredictable and very open, basically everyone can beat any team.”

What’s next?

Wisła will travel to Wrocław in two weeks on the 14th, to seek their 3rd away win this season and break their poor away record (three defeats in their last three away games). Śląsk and Wisła are currently sitting with 17 points, so this meeting will be important in the race for the top spots.

Cracovia will welcome Pogoń Szczecin two days later. A must-win game against a team only 2 points ahead of them, but most importantly to offer their fans the first home win of the season.

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