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Football / Reaction / Polish Ekstraklasa Title Race

Polish Ekstraklasa Title Race

Pre-season favourites Lech Poznan look to be out of contention but who will inherit their crown as Polish champions?

Wisla Krakow captain Radoslaw Sobolewski

J Bialystok lead the way by five points after 14 games of the 30 match season despite having the fourth lowest total in 13 years for a leader at this stage. The omens for the leaders are good, as 11/12 after 14 games since 1998/99 have finished in the top three and all three that had more than a three point advantage finished as champions (although they all lead by 7-10 points and had at least 38 points by now).

In fact 8/12 leaders stayed there to the end of the season, while all of the past 12 winners have been in the top five and no more than six points back at this stage.

Of the current top six teams Korona Kielce and Lechia Gdansk look the least likely to maintain a challenge given poor recent form and the fact they finished 7th and 9th last season respectively (ignoring points penalties); 10/15 teams to be in the top five and within 10 points of the lead at this stage having finished 7th or worse the previous year dropped down the table, while only one improved their position.

In contrast, teams that had finished in the top four the previous year saw 9/29 improve position compared with 8/29 getting worse, while 7/12 that stayed the same were already leading. Furthermore, 22/29 (76%) teams finished in the top three. Wisla Krakow and Legia Warsaw both fit this profile.

Wisla Krakow were a clear second last season and have finished in the top two in 11/12 years, including all 10 when in the top two at this stage, while claiming seven titles. Legia Warsaw also have good pedigree having finished in the top three in 9/12 seasons and the top four all 12. Furthermore, these two teams are the most in-form sides in the league, although Warsaw still need to travel to four of the other six teams in the top seven and also to Lech Poznan.

The stats suggest this is a three-horse race but while Bialystok have a handy lead right now they are clearly not particularly dominant having lost three of their last five matches, and it’s also worth noting that the only previous team (out of four) to have led having finished outside the top three the previous year and ended as champions was Wisla Krakow. As such it is Krakow who currently look the best value, followed by Warsaw given their harder fixture list.

Recommendation: 0.75 pt Wisla Krakow to win Ekstraklasa at 4.33, Stan James
                                   0.25 pt Legia Warsaw to win Ekstraklasa at 4.33, Stan James

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