Saturday 1 July 2023

Ground #387 - Stadion Wojska Polskiego

Date: 27th May 2023
Location: Śródmieście, Warsaw, Poland
Ground: Stadion Wojska Polskiego

My twelfth new ground of 2023 was on Saturday 27th May at Stadion Wojska Polskiego in Śródmieście, Warsaw, Poland. The game was Legia Warszawa vs. Śląsk Wrocław in the Polish Ekstraklasa.

Stadion Wojska Polskiego is located close to the banks of the Vistula River just south of the city centre. The stadium is the largest part of a sports complex with additional pitches, a tennis and golf centre and an athletics field to the west and a club shooting range to the east. The southern side of the ground is bordered by the Piaseczyński Canal whilst the northern side has housing on the other side of the road. The stadium is not particularly well served by rail with the nearest Warsaw Metro station of Politechnika some 1.5 miles to the west. There are however, regular buses to catch to the ground. The venue has been home to the club since 1930 although it was completely renovated between 2008-2011 so is in effect a new stadium.

The ground is a two-tier rectangular bowl with a capacity of 31,800. All seats have barriers behind them to accommodate the fact that almost the entire crowd stood for the whole game and did not use the seats. The North Stand is the home to the ultras who chant all game long and have various displays and tifos. The exterior of the stand has much of the club facilities with the ticket off, a large club bar and a large club store. The away fans are located at the opposite end of the ground in the south-west corner. Also in this corner is a large glass structure which is utilised as a conference centre and probably has the best views of the pitch at the venue. Two of the other corners (the north-west and the south-east) are used for big screens.

The West Stand is for the more expensive tickets - the upper deck has two rows of hospitality boxes with three rows of seats in front of each. The lower deck has more hospitality boxes at the back and the main seating below. The attendees in these seats took a long time to emerge at the start of both halves so are the less committed fans of the club. I was in the East Stand which was similar to the North and South stands. The concourse has inside and outside sections with food in the former and beer in the latter. The outside area extends out with picnic benches overlooking the steps down to ground level where there was an additional beer tent.

This was the last game of the Polish season. Legia had already finished 2nd behind first time champions Raków Częstochowa. It was a more important game for Śląsk Wrocław who found themselves one point above drop zone - a win would keep them up but anything else would leave them relying on Wisla Plock not bettering their result in their game. Śląsk clearly wanted to keep their survival in their own hands as 30 seconds into the game a 25-yard shot by Matias Nahuel Leiva was tipped over on the stretch by Kacper Tobiasz. Śląsk kept up the early pressure and opening the scoring in the 6th minute. Good play by John Yeboah with him ducking and weaving to escape defenders culminated in him laying the ball off to Erik Exposito who curled a shot from the edge of the box in off the bar to send the visiting fans wild. Seven minutes later Exposito tried to return the favour with an excellent ball which but Yeboah clean through but Tobiasz in the Legia goal made himself big and saved it. This positive start by the away side was completely undone during a eleven minute either side of the break. In the 37th minute Legia equalised when a speculative 25-yard shot by Rafal Augustyniak deflected off Diogo Verdasca and evaded keeper Rafal Leszczynskiinto to find the bottom corner of the net. And then two minutes before the break Maciej Rosolek dispatched Bartosz Slisz's cross from the right, shooting into the roof of the net from six yards. 

The second half was only a couple of minutes old when Josue's corner was headed into the roof of the net by Maciej Rosolek to make it 3-1 to the hosts. The game went quiet after this up until the final 20 minutes. The game sprung into life as Śląsk's Patrick Olsen's 25-yard shot needed Tobiasz on the stretch to keep it out. This awoke Legia who didn't want a comeback and in the closing minutes they peppered the away goal with shots and should have added to their lead. As it turned out Śląsk needn't have worried - relegation rivals Wisla went out with a whimper losing 3-0 at Cracovia so despite the defeat  the away side would have been relieved from the final day's action. 

Result: Legia Warszawa 3-1 Śląsk Wrocław
Division: Polish Ekstraklasa
Attendance: 24,874

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