With just three rounds remaining in the Ekstraklasa, and only four left in Pierwsza Liga, the Polish Leagues are getting into the business end of things. With both league titles still up for grabs (although the Ekstraklasa is almost a foregone conclusion), and four relegation spots left to play for (two in each league), this weekend sees some important battles – especially those in Gdańsk, Szczecin, Poznań and Olsztyn. Ryan Hubbard has his eyes on three games for you to cast your betting nets into.
Lechia Gdańsk – GKS Bełchatów (Saturday 25, 12:30 UK)
After a run of eight games without a victory, Bogusław Kaczmarek finally saw his Lechia Gdańsk side pick up a much-needed victory on the road last week, defeating another mid-table side Widzew Łódź 2-1. But whilst they have picked up 21 points away from home this season, it is their lack of form at home – just three home wins all season – which has left them closer to the relegation battle than the European spots.
In contrast, their Matchday 28 opponents GKS Bełchatów have been one of the Ekstraklasa’s form sides of 2013, only losing two of their twelve Spring round games. But still, the Brunatni lie in fifteenth position, and three points from safety. However the return of former boss Kamil Kiereś in winter has led something of a revival in Bełchatów, and with four wins from their last four outings, they still have a chance of survival – something which seemed hugely unlikely just three months ago.
Although not mathematically clear of the drop zone just yet, relegation for Lechia is extremely unlikely. With a number of sides below them looking in much worse shape, the Pomeranians will feel as though their survival is already assured. And with only one of these two sides with something to play for, a GKS victory is looking the most likely.
Bet 365 are offering odds of 2.60 for a GKS Bełchatów victory.
Stomil Olsztyn – Okocimski Brzesko (Saturday 25, 15:00 UK)
Whilst there is excitement at the top of both the Ekstraklasa and Pierwsza Liga, the second tier’s relegation battle is turning into something worth keeping an eye on – and also offers some excellent value in the betting market. Whilst ŁKS’s withdrawal sees them demoted and dead last, Polonia Bytom’s relegation last week (their third in three seasons) came despite a trio of successive victories.
Saturday’s clash in Olsztyn sees fourteenth-placed Stomil host sixteenth-placed Okocimski Brzesko, and whilst both of last season’s II Liga East promoted sides are still well inside a relegation battle, the runners’ up Stomil are in a rich vein of form. With just two defeats in their thirteen Spring games, Olsztyn have deservedly climbed out of the drop zone at the expense of Warta Poznań. With victories against three of the four main promotion challengers (plus a draw against leaders Nieciecza), Stomil have slowly become one of the strongest sides in the league.
Whilst Stomil have only managed two home victories all season, they face a Brzesko side which has picked up all four of their season victories away from home this season. But with just two points from their last six league games, their eleven point deficit to their hosts sees them needing a victory to stand a chance of survival.
With only relegated Bytom having a worse attack and defence, it looks as though it will be a quick return to the third tier for Brzesko. Stomil meanwhile know that a victory, coupled with a loss for Warta Poznań against Sandecja Nowy Sącz, will ensure a second term in the Pierwsza Liga.
A Stomil Olsztyn victory can be picked up at Bet365 with odds of 1.70.
Kolejarz Stróże – Termalica Bruk-Bet Nieciecza (Sunday 26, 17:00 UK)
This isn’t new ground for Nieciecza. A poor run at the end of last season saw them miss out on promotion after a strong season, but this year Kazimierz Moskal will be drilling into his team the importance of staying focused until the job is completed.
With tough games ahead against promotion rivals Zawisza Bydgoszcz and Flota Świnoujście, it is the two “easier” games against Kolejarz and Olimpia Grudziądz which absolutely necessitate wins for Nieciecza. Whilst they have picked up just seven points from their last five games, Moskal will be assuring that there will be no need for his side to panic. And with a three-point lead over third-placed Zawisza, it is the village club from Małopolska which holds the slight advantage in the race for the Ekstraklasa.
Languishing in mid-table, Kolejarz Stróże are another side with little to play for. With both promotion and relegation impossible, motivation will be low, and even with the league’s top scorer Maciej Kowalczyk in their ranks, breaking through the league’s best defence will be no mean feat. He may have managed it once in the reverse fixture back in October, but the league leaders still ended up comfortable winners sticking four past Konrad Forenc in the Kolejarz goal.
For an away victory, Bet 365 are offering odds of 1.85.