Astana vs Legia Warszawa – Wednesday 15:00 BT/16:00 CET at Astana Arena in Astana, Kazakhstan.
Astana are back in UEFA Champions League contention. In 2015 the Astana based side became the first team from Kazakhstan to reach the group stage of the UEFA Champions League.
Drawn in a group with Benfica, Atlético and Galatasaray Astana stayed without a home defeat. At the same time, three draws at the Astana Arena were not enough as the Kazakhstani side finished fourth in the group. Last season Astana failed to reach the group stage of the Champions League playing in the group stage of the Europa League instead. Once again Astana were undefeated at home, but three defeats on the road meant that Astana were eliminated nonetheless.
This season Astana want to reach the Champions League group stage once again. Owned by the state corporation Samruk-Kazyna the club is an important state sponsored vehicle designed to get Kazakhstan on the sporting map.
In their way is Poland’s biggest club Legia Warsawa. Legia reached the group stage of the UEFA Champions League where they were famously beaten 8-4 by Borussia Dortmund in the group stage. Participating in the group stage was a milestone for Legia, however, as it was the first time the Polish side had reached that stage of the competition in 20 years.
Polish football has been sadly absent from the later stages of the Champions League, and Legia want to ensure that it will not be another 20 years for them to return to the group stage of the tournament.
Astana vs Legia Warsawa – Player to look out for:
Laszlo Kleinheisler #6 – Astana
Signed from Werder Bremen this summer Kleinheisler was once deemed a major talent in Hungarian football. But Kleinheisler failed to make a lasting impression at Werder and then on loan at Darmstadt. A six-month loan to the Hungarian side Ferencvaros did not improve the situation either, and Werder were, therefore, happy to accept Astana’s loan deal offer this summer. At Astana, Kleinheisler hopes to rebuild a career that once looked very promising.
Michal Kucharczyk #18 – Legia Warszawa
Michal Kucharczyk had an absolute standout game in the second leg of the second round of UEFA Champions League qualifying—facing the Swedish side IFK Mariehamn Kucharczyk scored two of the six goals that Legia put past Mariehamn’s goalkeeper. Technically a winger Kucharczyk has shown that he can also play as a single striker up front and he may very well have to fulfil that role against Astana in the third round of Champions League qualifying.
Astana vs Legia Warszawa – Match Stats
- Astana eliminated Spartaks Jurmala from Latvia in the second stage of qualifying.
- Legia Warsawa eliminated IFK Marihamm from Sweden with a 6-0 second leg victory.
- This is the first competitive match between Legia and Astana in UEFA history.
- Astana and Warsaw are 3403 km apart.
Futbolgrad’s Prediction: Astana vs Legia Warszawa 0-2
Mokin – Shomko, Anicic, Logvinenko, Shitov – Maevskiy, Kleinheisler, Grahovac – Muzhikov, Kabananga, Twumasi
Manager: Stanimir Stoilov
Cierzniak – Hlousek, Pazdan, Dabrowski, Jedrzejczyk – Makowski, Maczynski – Moneta, Szymanski, Guilherme – Kucharczyk
Manager: Jacek Magiera
Manuel Veth is a freelance journalist and social media junior editor at Bundesliga.com. He is also a holder of a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which will be available in print soon. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.