Manchester City go to Poznan on Europa League treasure trail

Manchester City continue their Europa League campaign tonight with a trip to Poland and Lech Poznan. A Different League asked former scout Michal Zachodny of for more information on the Blues’ Group A opponents.

“Lech’s aim in Europe was to make it to the group stage of the Champions League. Few expected them to struggle as they did against Sparta Prague in qualifications to the main tournament,” Zachodny says, adding the 2010 Ekstraklasa champions have already achieved their new goal: “When they were dropped, or relegated, as many clubs losing in Champions League feel, to the Europa League, it was all about getting to the group stage as well. When the draw was made it was obvious that Lech’s aim should be third place. Anything over that would be taken as a surprise and much welcomed.”

According to Zachodny, when City arrive in west Poland they will find a scene worlds apart from what they left in Manchester. “We are on completely different level to what you have in England. For example, not even a single club can be proud of their training base or even try to compare it to clubs playing in Premier League,” Zachodny admitted. He continued: “Then it’s marketing, scouting and many other things that are on different level here and in England. Lech, after their fusion with Amica Wronki in 2006, are still rising as a whole project but already they are the biggest club in Poland and on many fields is something like a forerunner.”

“They are learning from the examples of the best clubs from Europe but many ideas are hitting tough ground in this country and even in their club so we must wait a decade to compare in that way clubs from England and Poland.”

Despite just a few weeks passing between the game in Manchester and the fixture tonight, Roberto Mancini will be up against a new face in the home dugout. Zachodny explains: “Lech just made a change in manager. Barcelona legend Jose Mari Bakero took the place of fans’ favourite Jacek Zielinski and although Bakero said that no great changes will be made by him this Thursday, he also said that there are elements that had to be repaired in Lech’s team.” With the new Spanish Coach’s words in mind, Zachodny feels Lech will not differ too much from the side that lost 3-1 in late October: “They will stay 4-2-3-1 and I expect maybe two or three changes to the game they played against Wisla Krakow on Sunday. It is very hard to judge on the formation and line-up for this game.”

Zachodny also believes Lech can have more to offer on their own patch than they displayed in Manchester two weeks ago: “Lech stayed focused for most of the game but I know that they can play better in defence and Bakero will look to change that in the last hours he has before the City game. City are by far the better team but both teams have their problems right now and it will be up to which one will take advantage.”

“At least Lech can expect 40 000 people to get behind them and push them to make the impossible happen.”

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