AGONA Profile: Legia Warsaw, the stuttering Polish giants
The AGONA Profile takes a closer look at Legia Warsaw, who will play Atromitos in the third qualifying round of the 2019/2020 UEFA Europa League.
Atromitos certainly aren’t regarded as favourites against Legia. In recent years, Legia have somewhat struggled on the continental stage, but the Poles boast vital European experience and are always difficult to beat at their intimidating Polish Army Stadium. So far, it has to be said that Legia have been somewhat underwhelming in this year’s Europa League, beating Europa FC of Gibraltar 3:0 on aggregate after drawing on the road and scraping past KuPS Kuopio 1:0. This could be a great time for Atromitos to play Legia.
Since being founded in 1916, Legia have won the Ekstraklasa 13 times, while also hoisting the Polish Cup aloft on 19 occasions. In Europe, the club once qualified for the semi-finals of the European Cup in the 1969/1970 campaign, and Legia also played in the Last Four of the 1990/1991 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup.
Legia became well-known across the continent in the 2016/2017 season. In that particular year, Legia competed in the group stages of the UEFA Champions League, finishing in a credible third place of Group F having defeated Sporting Lisbon and picked up a famous 3:3 draw against Real Madrid. Former PAOK hitman Aleksandar Prijovic was a key member of that Legia team.
However, since that memorable Champions League season, Legia haven’t played in the group stage of a UEFA competition. In the 2018/2019 season, Legia suffered a surprise defeat to Spartak Trnava in the Champions League qualifiers, and they subsequently contrived to lose against F91 Dudelange in the Europa League preliminaries.
Legia finished in second place of the 2018/2019 Ekstraklasa, missing out on what would have been their fourth successive Polish title on goal difference to Lechia Gdansk.
Full name: Legia Warszawa SA
Owner: Darius Mioduski
Head coach: Aleksandar Vukovic
Home stadium: Polish Army Stadium (Capacity 30,800)
Major honours won: 13 Ekstraklasa championships, 19 Polish Cup titles, 4 Polish Super Cup titles
Aleksandar Vukovic, 39, was appointed the head coach of Legia in April after Ricardo Sa Pinto left the club. Interestingly, when he was a player, Vukovic spent time in Greece on the books of Ergotelis (2004-2005) and Iraklis (2009). Vukovic ended his playing career with Korona Kielce in 2013.
So far, Vukovic has managed 17 matches after being appointed Legia coach this year, gaining a points-per-game average of 1.71.
Spanish striker Carlitos, 29, is definitely the star of this Legia side. In July 2018, Carlitos transferred to Legia from Ekstraklasa rivals Wisla Krakow, and he scored a large 19 goals in 45 appearances across all competitions in the ensuing 2018/2019 campaign. This season, the talented forward has continued hitting the target, scoring twice in the Europa League. He will be the man causing the biggest threat to the generally sturdy Atromitos defence.
Cafu, a former member of the Benfica youth system, signed a permanent contract with Legia this summer after the Poles agreed on a fee with Metz. In the previous season, the Brazilian central midfielder had played on loan in Warsaw, netting four goals and making two assists in the Ekstraklasa. Cafu has great technical ability and can break forward to good effect.
Remember Andre Martins? Yes, you got it, the ex-Olympiacos midfielder transferred to Legia from the Erythrolefki in September 2018 and is an important figure in midfield for the Polish club. Martins, 29, tallied two goals and three assists in the 2018/2019 Ekstraklasa.