Editor’s note: Christian, who you should follow on Twitter, is an old friend of the site because he is a longtime Espanyol supporter and he has given us the summaries of what to expect before we play them.
He now lives in Poland, and can often be found tweeting about Polish football, so when we drew Lech in the Europa Conference League, I knew immediately that I wanted him to return to give us an introduction to their club and how they play. I am extremely thankful for his contribution.
Lech Poznań, usually referred to simply as Lech, are one of Poland’s biggest sides. Kolejorz (The railwaymen) are up there with the best supported teams in the country, with that same support being recognised globally for the introduction of ‘The Poznań’ in 1961.
Lech are also the 5th most decorated side in Poland, winning the Ekstraklasa title 8 times, the Puchar Polski 5 times, as well as a the Super Puchar Polski (Polish Supercup) a record 6 times.
But despite this success, Lech are a side that remember where they come from. The clubs historical ties to the Polish state railway are not just celebrated through their nickname, but also at every kick off, as the referee’s whistle is met with the sound of a steam trains horn.
As last years Ekstraklasa champions, and Poland’s only remaining European representatives, you’d be forgiven for thinking there’s a certain expectation of Lech to perform. However, that’s not the case.
As I write this, Lech sit joint bottom of the Ekstraklasa under new manager John Van den Brom - and they very much stumbled their way past much lesser opponents to reach the group stages of the UECL.
To be frank, most people in Poland don’t expect much more from them at all. And that may be the only silver lining for a club in a steadily worsening situation.
Last year’s coach, Maciej Skorża, had Lech playing wonderful free flowing football. But his departure for personal reasons in the summer, as well as the loss of young Poland international Jakub Kamiński to Wolfsburg have hit Lech hard.
It’s clear that Van den Brom wants Lech to play passing football again this year. But beyond that, it’s still difficult to see any discernible gameplan or style.
And the results show it. Lasts season star combination of João Amaral and Mikael Ishak has completely stagnated. Play has been slow and predictable.
With results as they are at the moment, and the usually loyal, passionate support waning through regular protests, it’s difficult to see Lech upsetting the apple cart in Europe.
Especially when they’ll be so focused on the domestic mess they’re already in. But if they can get the fans back on side, Lech will always be a challenge to beat at Bułgarska.