POLISH football expert Michal Gutka gives the lowdown on Legia Warsaw ahead of the first leg of their Europa League play-off against Rangers in the Polish Army Stadium tomorrow evening.

Q: How are Legia Warsaw looking ahead of their match against Rangers?

A: "Legia are going through another period of transformation. Their coach is Aleksandar Vuković, a Serb who is a former Legia player and captain who played more than 200 games for the club. They brought in a couple of new players in the summer and while their team looks impressive on paper it is still lacking the proper understanding.

"They play very good defensively, but are poor in front of goal. Vuković has been rotating his strikers, because none of them is in form. The fans are quite puzzled why Carlitos, former top scorer in Polish league and probably their best player technically, has been starting on the bench.


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"The Polish title is the goal for Legia every year. Last season they lost out to Piast Gliwice which was a big shock as Piast is a minnow and it was their first title. Legia lost some points towards the end of the season and it cost them the championship, but Vuković kept his job

Q: Do you think they will they beat Rangers in the Europa League play-off?

A: "The feeling is that Rangers are favourites. Legia haven't impressed against lesser sides in the Europa League so far. They've played Europa FC from Gibraltar and KuPS from Finland and drew 0-0 away on both occasions. They won at home, but unconvincingly. Against Greek side Atromitos they were much better - unlucky in 0-0 draw at home but commanding in 2-0 away win.

"Getting past Rangers would be big. Every Legia fan remembers 6-1 aggregate win against Celtic from 2015 after which they were eliminated due to an administrative error that led to them fielding a player who was supposed to be serving the third match of his ban from the previous year.

"Since then Legia enjoyed the high of getting to the Champions League group stages in 2016. But after that most of the team was sold. In the next two years Legia suffered some embarrassing results in Europe. They have lost to Astana of Kazakhstan and Spartak Trnava of Slovakia in Champions League qualifying and Sheriff Tiraspol of Moldova and Dudelange on Luxembourg in Europa League qualifying. So they have something common with Rangers.

"This season their results in Europe have been a bit better, but their style of play isn't very good."

Q: What are Legia's strengths and weaknesses? Who are their key players?

A: "Legia are solid defensively and their attacking players are good. But they haven't performed well up front this season for some reason. Carlitos is a good striker and dribbler, Luquinhas is a new player. He is a dynamic winger who can go past any opponent. Arvydas Novikovas, another new acquisition, is a winger who can score goals.


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"Valerian Gvilia is another newcomer. He is a central midfielder who can pass and execute set pieces.Andre Martins is a solid central midfielder with European experience and has represented Portugal in the past.

"In defence, Artur Jedrzejczyk is a leader. He was a regular for the Polish side which got to the Euro 2016 quarter-finals and signed for Legia despite offers from France. Goalkeeper Radosław Majecki is one to watch. Just 19-years-old, he is regarded as one of the top young keepers in Europe. Legia has a tradition of producing good keepers - Artur Boruc, Lukasz Fabianski, Wojciech Szczesny just to name a few - and a club have received offers for him from Inter Milan and Arsenal. But they would rather keep him and develop him before letting him go abroad."

Q: How is the Legia manager regarded by supporters?

A: "Vuković is hard to judge. Legia changed their managers a lot in recent years and he was assistant to a few of them. After they were sacked he got the job on interim basis. So he's been with the club through a lot, as a coach and a player. In the spring he replaced Ricardo Sa Pinto, who was sacked. Having an understanding of Legia's DNA, Vuković was the board's unanimous choice. He didn't win the title, but his job is to rebuild the team.

"Fans are divided about him. Despite him being a former player and captain, he, as with any Legia coach in recent years, could be under pressure at any minute. If Legia is going to be eliminated by Rangers, he probably won't be sacked - barring an embarrassing result. But it would undermine his position and the feeling that the change is coming would be stronger. If he goes past Rangers, he will get more time and it will shot that his work is taking this team places.

"Vuković is confident in his decisions and charismatic. He demands good organized football from Legia players, which may actually be good for European qualifiers. His side probably won't probably go all-out against Rangers, especially away. But getting to the Europa League group stages is a top priority after two years of failure and would make up for not winning the Polish championship last season."