Termalica BB Nieciecza vs Jagiellonia Bialystok
Competition: Polish Ekstraklasa
Date: 16 July 2017
Kick-off: 15:30 CET
“New coach, interesting transfers”, wrote a Polish website a couple of days ago about Nieciecza, and in just four words they pretty much described how the summer has gone so far for the team that finished 8th last season (7th in regular season). Mariusz Rumak has taken over, and he sounds enthusiastic about the prospect of leading the team higher than his predecessor. Did they sign the players they need for that? It remains to be seen. One thing is for sure, their transfers were ‘interesting’ indeed, bringing in players who can’t be described as ‘stars’ (Nieciecza don’t have the budget for that), but who, after a closer look, do seem capable of pushing Nieciecza a step higher, if they manage to work well as a group. Slovakian goalkeeper Ján Mucha, 34, joined the club, bringing in lots of experience. Latvia international Vitalijs Maksimenko, 26, left-back, also signed at Nieciecza, having spent the last two seasons in Austria. Kamil Słaby is another interesting addition to their roster, a 23-year-old left-back who impressed last year at Sandecja Nowy Sącz. It was in the I Liga, not the Ekstraklasa, but the youngster did start in all his 33 appearances, he was never substituted, and, remarkably, he scored eight goals, most of those in the spring round, showing signs of improvement not just from one season to the next, but also during the same season. Nieciecza signed more players in all lines, and are definitely a team to watch closely this new season.
The biggest pleasant surprise last season, Jagiellonia touched the miracle, finished first in April, but second at the end of the season, two points below champions Legia. Unlike Nieciecza who had to settle for friendly games alone as they were preparing for their first Ekstraklasa match, Jagiellonia have already played three super important games, taking part in Europa League qualifying rounds. They beat Dinamo Batumi 1-0 in Georgia thanks to a Cillian Sheridan goal, the Irish striker who joined them half a year ago, and scored eight goals in 14 matches in the second half of last season. In the return leg in Bialystok, they ran wild in the second part, thrashing the Georgians 4-0. Last Thursday they faced Qabala in Azerbaijan, a team much-much stronger than Dinamo Batumi, and still they did very well, earning a precious 1-1 draw, in what was a rather… crazy game, despite the low score. The ball kept going up and down throughout the 90 minutes, especially the second half was full of clear chances for both teams, and one reason for concern at Jagiellonia is, maybe, how wasteful they looked in front of goal, and how easily, at times, they panicked in their defense, failing to clear the ball in what looked like easy job. It remains to be seen how fresh the Jagiellonia players will look, having played a truly exhausting match less than 72 hours ago. Certain players, 26-year-old left winger Arvydas Novikovas being probably the most characteristic example, struggled to finish the game or had to ask to be substituted.
Termalica BB Nieciecza vs Jagiellonia Bialystok: Head-to-head Stats
One win each, and one draw, in the three games between these two in Nieciecza the last two years.
Termalica BB Nieciecza vs Jagiellonia Bialystok: Prediction
I’m really concerned about the fact that Jagiellonia played in Azerbaijan on Thursday, in what proved to be an… out of the ordinary match, with both teams attacking non-stop, especially in the second half. I do expect them to look tired, especially in the last 30 minutes, which should be Nieciecza’s best chance to step on it and go for all three points.
Termalica BB Nieciecza vs Jagiellonia Bialystok: Tips
Given that this is the first day of the Ekstraklasa season, as I have written in other previews these last days, I prefer to take things a bit more conservatively, so I’m avoiding Nieciecza’s win, at 2.70, and I’m going with ‘over 2.5 goals’, which pays less, 2.20, but feels like a smaller risk.