Oct 21, 2010

In 'Pole Position' but who are Lech Poznan?

By James Brown

When Manchester City fans saw the draw for group A in the Europa League, they might have been forgiven for dismissing Lech Poznan as a threat. The Polish side have had other ideas, however. After beating Austrian visitors Salzburg comfortably at home, they travelled to Italy to gain an impressive point at the Stadio Alpi, in a thrilling 3-3 draw. They now trump the billionaire club by goal difference to head the group at this early stage.

Picture: Lech's Artjoms Rudnevs could be watched by EPL scouts (picture © 2009, Pilise Gábor)

A month ago not even die-hard Lech fans had heard of Artjoms Rudnevs, their new Latvian striker, but after an explosive hat-trick in Turin, people are starting to warm to the man. He's also grabbed four goals in the Polish league, he clearly will be the main man to watch at the City of Manchester Stadium on Thursday night. Rumours have it that Blackburn Rovers sent a scout to watch the forward after his European antics, perhaps they might send a representative on Thursday evening.

Is their European form just paper over the cracks of their domestic form however? The current Polish champions lie in a dismal 13th place in the league with eight games played and well off the pace of the leading Jagiellonia Bialystok. By finishing top of the Polish league last year, they were entered into the qualifying rounds of the Champions League but, after seeing off Azerbaijani side Baku on penalties, they were sent into the Europa League by Sparta Prague on a 2-0 aggregate.

Current form suggests they must improve in defence and this could be an area which Manchester City could exploit by being solid at the back but with an attacking outlook We've all read about Carlos Tevez's supposed frustrations with Mancini's negative tactics, will the Italian manager throw more forwards at Lech? Or, mindful of their three goal display in Italy, will he be a little more cautious?

There's no doubt Manchester City should be targeting a win againt the Polish side but they need to be aware that there are no easy games at this level and Lech will be looking to keep themslves at the top of the group and with a fighting chance of reaching the knock-out stages.

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