Legia Warsaw (or Warszawa, should you fancy the original spelling) are the team Ajax will face in the Round of 32 of the Europa League. Let’s take a closer look at the club and its standout players.
Legia was originally founded in 1916, during World War I, as the main club of Polish Legions. They won the first tier, Ekstraklasa, 11 times including last season. To that, they added 18 Polish Cups, which is a record, and 4 supercups. In Europe, the furthest they got was Champions League semi-final in 1970, the same round they reached in 1991 Cup Winners’ Cup. In the Europa League they made it to the Round of 32 twice before, falling to Sporting in 2012 and our very own Ajax.
During said set of fixtures, they weren’t able to break through the Amsterdammers’ defence and score, losing 0-1 in the ArenA and 0-3 at home. Three out of four Ajax’s goals were scored by none other that Poland’s very own Arek Milik, with Nick Viergever being the only other scorer. It would be fun to repeat such a feat this year, right?
Now, let’s look at some of the standout players of Legia. (Note, I would have loved to include Valeri Qazaishvili, who played under Peter Bosz for Vitesse, but he has been rarely featured in the first team).
The 25 year old Brazilian has spent just eight matches at Leagia on loan, but the Polish club then brought him in permanently, and since then the former Braga prospect has been a key player in the midfield. The winger from Tres Rios has 4 goals and 3 assists in the league this season and is pretty much the offensive engine of the reigning champions, who are currently third and trying to catch up to Lechia Gdansk.
A universal player on the left hand side, Hloušek is 2009 Czech Talent of the Year, taking that award as a Slavia Prague player. Since then, he has gone on to feature quite heavily in the Bundesliga for Nurnberg and Stuttgart. This January, instead of staying with a team that eventually got relegated, Hloušek was linked to a return to the Czech Republic, but ultimately chose to sign for Legia, where he is the starting left back. Despite his position if the defensive line, the occasional Czech international is very keen on helping the attack out and has quite a shot in his left foot.
Serbian-born Hungarian striker Nemanja Nikolič is a target man to say the least. The man born on the last day of 1987 holds three awards for a league’s top scorer. Three times, he took home the award in Hungary, once as a Kaposvar player, twice in the Videoton shirt. Last year, he became the top goalscorer in Polish Cup as well as the league, where he scored 28 goals in 37 matches. He surely is Legia’s biggest offensive weapon… so it’s a good sign for Ajax that since yesterday, Polish media have been reporting he is leaving the club in the winter. He has quite a few offers, including one from MLS’ worst team this year, Chicago Fire.
How will Legia fare without Nikolič against Ajax? Will we shut them out again? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter @AjaxDailydotcom!