It’s a pleasure for me to present the first article from Her Football Hub’s new column ‘Polska Piłka’, which translates to ‘Polish Football’. Although Polish women’s football is not that popular abroad, I would like to start by presenting the teams from our top-tier league – the Ekstraliga. Today is a good day to do that as we start the penultimate leg of the season. The Ekstraliga medal battle is on.
Top Four – The medal battle
The leader of the Ekstraliga table is Czarni Sosnowiec. They are last year’s bronze medallist and the most titled team in women’s football in Poland. Now, they are on route to the 13th Champion title. The team was unbeaten in the autumn. The two points they lost were against GKS Katowice in the final minutes of the final game of the round. With a few injuries among top players, including the top forward player, Dżesika Jaszek, the wing Weronika Zawistowska, and Nikol Kaletka, Czarni Sosnowiec still can’t be sure of getting their gold medals. Winning, however, will end their wait since 1999/2000.
Czarni Sosnowiec have a five point advantage over the biggest surprise of the season – UKS SMS Łódź. This team also had a great autumn, finishing second place with just one league loss – against Czarni. However, an injury to the top scorer, Paulina Filipczak, puts the first medal for the club into question. In the end, the power of SMS is the strength of the team. Other players have shared the responsibility for scoring, so UKS SMS Łódź still have a mathematical chance for the gold. Their surprise success means that one of the pre-season candidates to the title – Czarni, Górnik and Medyk – will finish without medal.
The two teams still unsure of their podium appearance are the defending champions Górnik Łęczna, and the vice-champion from 2019/2020, Medyk Konin. Both had a surprisingly weak start to the season but both also managed to recover. Currently, Górnik has a four-point advantage over Medyk. Now, with just three points behind SMS, they are still in contention for a silver. They also have some of the top strikers in the league in Ewelina Kamczyk, Nikola Karczewska, as well as Patrícia Hmírová and Emilia Zdunek. This means that Górnik Łęczna’s chances for a podium are much higher than their rivals.
Middle of the field – 5-7
Behind the top four there is a battle for the fifth place, now lead by GKS Katowice. This team is bolstered by their young international players like wing defender Zofia Buszewska and offensive player Kinga Kozak . Both players, born in 2002, debuted for the Polish national team during the EURO 2021 qualifications. Another young player, Klaudia Maciążka, is also among the candidates to play with the White Eagle on a chest. With just a one point advantage over Śląsk Wrocław, the battle is still a tight one. Seeing the poor shape of Śląsk Wrocław in the spring, it’s more probable that AZS UJ Kraków, placed seventh with three points behind Śląsk Wrocław, will attack the top half of the table.
Hopes for the future – 8-10
The three teams sure of remaining at the top-tier are Olimpia Szczecin, AP Lotos Gdańsk, and Sportis KKP Bydgoszcz . Olimpia Szczecin had great matches in autumn, causing many issues for the top teams. AP Lotos Gdańsk, who got a big sponsor from the Polish oil industry, looks to build its team for the future but also have an experienced player in Aleksandra Rompa. Finally, Sportis KKP Bydgoszcz had a lot of injuries to their players during the last few months, making them fall from the middle of the table to tenth place.
This season, the relegation zone is a closed matter and consists of the debuting team ROW Rybnik, and Rolnik Głogówek. Rolnik Biedrzychowice-Głogówek were also in the relegation zone last year and were saved only by other teams’ problems. This year, ROW Rybnik and Rolnik Biedrzychowice-Głogówek have got four and two points respectively. They are the easiest rivals to beat with 67 and 86 goals lost.
Medal battle for the final two legs
With just two legs to go, the most important games of the season will be those by the teams interested in the medal battle. Here are the matchups for these final games:
– Czarni Sosnowiec – GKS Katowice (away), Sportis KKP Bydgoszcz (home)
– UKS SMS Łódź – ROW Rybnik (home), Górnik Łęczna (away)
– Górnik Łęczna – Olimpia Szczecin (away), UKS SMS Łódź (home)
– Medyk Konin – AZS UJ Kraków (away), Śląsk Wrocław (home)
The most crucial matchup in deciding the silver medal will be the final leg game between UKS SMS Łódź and Górnik Łęczna. But with GKS Katowice being in a really good shape and having strong offensive youngsters, the title matter might still be open after this weekend. As an objective spectator, I can’t wait for these games. The final whistle of the season is bound to be full of emotion.