Showing posts with label Lech Poznan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Lech Poznan. Show all posts

Monday, February 01, 2016

Interview with Finland midfielder Kasper Hämäläinen

In the latest ETS interview, I spoke with Finland's Kasper Hämäläinen, who recently caused controversy in Poland by moving from Lech Poznań to their fierce rivals Legia Warsaw. Many thanks to Kappe for his replies.




Congratulations on your move to Legia – did you find it difficult to move to a rival club? Has some of the reaction been a surprise?
Thank you. I knew exactly how much rivalry they have between these two clubs and I had to give serious thought before I signed for Legia. I knew there would be some kind of reaction and I was prepared for it, so it didn't come as a surprise for me.

Did you have offers from clubs in any other countries?
I had few options from different countries but as a whole package, Legia's offer suited us the best...

You’ve got a league title medal with Lech, is that the best achievement of your career so far?
After winning two silver medals, to win the league title was something extraordinary. It was my first league title and the feeling was unbelieveable. I hope that wasn't my only league title! Yes, that's my best achievement of my career so far.

What was the atmosphere like at Lech? Did the fans celebrating backwards seem strange at first?
Lech Poznan is known for its good atmosphere and for the fan culture. So I got to know it really quickly and there was a lot of noise. I knew about the "Lech Poznan dance" so it didn't come as a shock for me but still to experience that with my own eyes was something special.


Now that Hans Backe has taken over the Finland job, have you spoken to him about the future?
I spoke with him after our last qualification game against Northern Ireland and we had a good chat. Quite short, but still a little chat. He wanted to know if I'm still eager to play for the national team and I said of course I am.

Do you think the side could qualify for a major tournament in the near future?
Absolutely. We just need a little bit of luck and a good start to the campaign. Just look how Iceland managed to win their group. Everything is possible. We must believe.

As yet another TPS graduate, do you think you’ll ever return to play there?
It depends a little bit where I'm going to settle down after my journey abroad... If it is Turku, then of course I would like to play there.


You played a lot of Veikkausliiga games before moving abroad, would you recommend that to youngsters who get offers at a young age?
I was actually quite old when I moved from Veikkausliiga to Sweden. But I had some serious injuries and my development halted for a moment so I was sort of a late bloomer. But my advise is to stay and play in Veikkausliiga for a few years and then move forward. Don't rush with anything but still try to keep yourself motivated for wanting to move to one of the bigger leagues.

What was the experience like of playing in the 2003 U17 World Championships? How did it prepare you for senior football?
Back then I didn't really realize how big that was. I just played for fun and didn't think about it so much. It was a really nice experience for me and I'm sure it has helped me a lot later on.



Some footballers play video games to unwind, some make music, how do you relax away from football?
Well now we have a little baby so most of the attention goes to him... So I'm quite busy at home! But if I have time, I like to go and hit some golf balls or just go for a walk with my dog.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Introducing Lech Poznań - Honka's European opponents

Honka open their Europa League campaign this week in the second qualifying round, where they meet Polish club Lech Poznań - runners up in last year's Ekstraklasa (Polish top division). The first leg in Finland, will be played on Thursday 18th July. The return leg in Poland will be played on Thursday 25th July.

Friend of the site Ryan Hubbard, founder of the superb EKSTRAKLASAreview website, has written a fine preview of Honka's opponents for us to read before (during and after!) the tie. He has also hosted a short preview of Honka that I wrote for his site, have a look here.


Welcome to Manchester Poznań

After a sluggish start to to 2012/13 season, perennial challengers picked themselves up quickly to battle their greatest enemies Legia Warszawa for the Polish Ekstraklasa title. With around a month of the season remaining the Kolejorz had already guaranteed at least a European spot, however a 1-0 Matchday 28 defeat in Warsaw effectively handed the title to their rivals.

With their runners-up spot confirmed with a few games to spare, Lech enter European competition for the fifth time in the last six years - only their fifth-placed finish in 2010/11 preventing them from taking part the following season. Whilst their domestic season wasn't the greatest in 2010/11, they will be aiming to replicate their Europa League campaign from that year. On their way to a last-32 defeat to eventual finalists Braga, they managed fantastic wins against both Red Bull Salzburg and Manchester City, whilst twice holding Juventus to a draw.

STRENGTHS

By far the strongest part of the current Lech Poznań team is their vast midfield. With coach Mariusz Rumak expected to field five men across the middle, they can be difficult to break down whilst able to create a lot of chances both for themselves and the strikers.

With Hungarian Gergo Lovrencsics and Finnish Kasper Hämäläinen netting ten between them last term, Lech have strengthened their attacking prowess with the addition of Zagłębie Lubin winger Szymon Pawłowski - a more than adequate replacement for Aleksander Tonev, who departed for Aston Villa.

Whilst defensive midfield pair Rafał Murawski and Łukasz Trałka may not have had their strongest season, they are still a very formidable pair - both finding their way into Polish national squads over the last eighteen months.  Rumak also has the option to include Polish youth prodigy Karol Linetty in his middle five - the eighteen year-old led the Polish U17 side to third-place in last year's European Championships.

Finland international Kasper Hämäläinen

WEAKNESSES

The problem for Lech is that their strikers have been known to struggle when it comes to converting chances. Whilst Łukasz Teodorczyk scored a hatful in autumn at Polonia Warszawa, his winter move didn't quite yield the same results. In the capital, Teodorczyk played the role of a support striker excellently - grabbing almost as many assists as he did goals. However since his move to Poznań, he has been played in a lone striker role - and the difference showed. But after scoring his first Lech goal late in the season, we have seen more glimpses of the Teodorczyk which earned a call-up to the Polish National team. A hat-trick in a friendly against Danish side FC Nordsjaelland just last week confirming that "Teo" hasn't lost his abilities.

Whilst Teodorczyk's first goal in the blue shirt brought a much needed confidence boost, his fellow striker Bartosz Ślusarski needs more than confidence. Despite netting __ league goals last term, he was widely thought of as one of the weakest strikers in the league. With the amount of chances both self-created and handed to him, Ślusarski could have scored many more, and the signing of Teodorczyk only went to show that Ślusarski's goal record alone wasn't enough for Mariusz Rumak.

INJURIES

Whilst Lech have been struggling to field a full side during their pre-season friendlies, they can now count on the return of six players for the tie with Honka. Along with the aforementioned Ślusarski and Linetty, Kebba Ceesay, Tomasz Kędziora, Patryk Wolski and Szymon Pawłowski should all be available for the first leg.

However there are still a few doubts in the Kolejorz camp; Barry Douglas, Rafał Murawski and Luis Henriquez all look set to miss at least one of the two meetings.

POSSIBLE LINE-UP

Jasmin Burić 
Hubert Wołąkiewicz, Marcin Kamiński, Manuel Arboleda, Kebba Ceesay
 Łukasz Trałka, Mateusz Możdżeń 
Gergo Lovrencsics, Kasper Hämäläinen, Szymon Pawłowski
Łukasz Teodorczyk