Football: Exciting finish of Ekstraklasa

Three teams remain in a battle for the football championship of Poland and five others are still threatened by relegation to the lower division.

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On Monday, the 34th round of 2018/2019 season of LOTTO Ekstraklasa, the highest tier of Poland’s football competition, will be concluded with a game between Jagiellonia Białystok and Pogoń Szczecin.

After 30 games, the 16-team league had been divided into two groups: one competing for the championship, and the second for teams fighting relegation.

In the top of Championship Group, the leader is Legia Warsaw with 66 points on their account. On Saturday, the club from the capital was beaten 1:0 by Piast Gliwice, which is in the second place with 65 points. Behind them is Lechia Gdańsk, the recent winner of the Polish Cup, with 63 points. The club was defeated on Sunday by MKS Cracovia, which holds the fourth position.

Regardless of the results of the upcoming three rounds, Legia, Piast and Lechia will be the top three teams, although the final order is still to be decided, all three of them still have chances to be the champions. The struggle for the fourth place which gives entry to the preliminary round of the UEFA Europa League will also be tight.

Cracovia has 51 points on their account, the same number as KGHM Zagłębie Lubin and Jagiellonia Białystok, which still has one more match remaining. If this club wins Monday’s game, it will move to the fourth position, but should Pogoń defeat them, the team from Szczecin, north-western Poland, will have 50 points under their belt. Still in the game is Lech Poznań, currently with 49 points.

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Remain or Leave?

In the Relegation Group, the situation is also not yet clear. After the latest round, two teams, Wisła Kraków and Korona Kielce, are certain that they will remain in LOTTO Ekstraklasa, while Zagłębie Sosnowiec is doomed to be relegated.

But due to the fact that two teams will leave LOTTO Ekstraklasa and be relegated to Fortuna 1 Liga, the second tier of the championship, the fight for remaining in the top division will also be tight.

The 15th place, from which a team is relegated, is currently occupied by Śląsk Wrocław, holding just 35 points. In 14th, there is Arka Gdynia with one point more. Above them, there are two clubs with 37 points, which are Wisła Płock and Miedź Legnica. In the best situation, although not absolutely certain of survival, is Górnik Zabrze, with 40 points to their account.

The last three rounds of LOTTO Ekstraklasa will be held on May 10-12, then on May 13-15, and the final round on May 18-19. The champion of Poland will play in the preliminary rounds of UEFA Champions League, while the teams from second, third and fourth position – in qualifying stages of UEFA Europa League.

Ekstraklasa returns to Łódź and Częstochowa

On April 24, Raków Częstochowa already claimed the promotion to LOTTO Ekstraklasa from Fortuna 1 Liga. The club from this city in southern Poland returns to the top football competition after 21 years. Raków was playing in Ekstraklasa in years 1994-1998. The best result was achieved in season 1995/1996 when the club finished the competition in the eighth position.

Over the last weekend, ŁKS Łódź also secured its promotion, after defeating GKS Jastrzębie-Zdrój 2:0. The club from Łódź, central Poland, for the last time played in the top Polish competition in season 2011/2012, then, after not completing season 2012/2013 in 1 Liga, it was relegated to the Fourth Division, the fifth tier, because of financial problems. The club was then restructured and started its march back to the top division. ŁKS Łódź was twice the champion of Poland, in years 1958 and 1998.