‘Here it’s just Robert’: Poland coach Paulo Sousa admits his team are totally reliant on Bayern star Lewandowski as they prepare to take on England
- Poland host England in a World Cup qualifier on Wednesday evening
- Gareth Southgate’s side can take a giant stride towards Qatar with three points
- But they will have to keep out the prolific Bayern striker Robert Lewandowski
- Coach Paulo Sousa admitted his team do rely on his goals to achieve success
- His 70th international goal came in Thursday’s qualifying win over Albania
Poland aren’t trying to hide their reliance on Robert Lewandowski with manager Paulo Sousa admitting he has to surpass even his dazzling Bayern Munich form to cause an upset against England next week.
Lewandowski scored his 70th international goal in Thursday’s win against Albania and says he’s better than ever at 33.
‘Age is just numbers,’ he said. ‘I’ve had the best fitness tests results in my career so I’ve started preparing for the season on a higher level than usual. I feel great physically and mentally.’
Robert Lewandowski celebrates scoring for Poland in their victory over Albania last week
The Bayern Munich striker’s towering header set Poland on their way to a 4-1 win in Warsaw
That’s welcome news for Poland who are England’s closest challengers in World Cup qualification but need a win in Warsaw on Wednesday to stop Gareth Southgate’s side from effectively sealing top spot. Lewandowski missed the 2-1 defeat at Wembley in March.
‘We want to compete against the best but know we don’t have the same level as England. If they lose a player, they have two or three of the same level. Here it’s just Robert,’ said a candid Sousa, who had spells in charge of QPR, Swansea and Leicester a decade ago.
‘As a manager, you talk about the team but it’s true there is a big difference between Robert’s level and the others. We approach the best way to deal with it and Robert understands because he is a great leader and loves his country.
Lewandowski, 33, remains as integral to Poland’s chances of making tournaments as ever
Lewandowski scored three goals at Euro 2020 but Poland finished bottom of their group
‘He knows with the national team he needs to do four, five, six times more than he does at Bayern. Pushing all the time, scoring goals, interactions with others.
‘His header against Albania was something we worked on at the training ground the morning of the game. It was fantastic to see the teamwork. When we have the quality of Robert on the pitch, anything can happen in our favour.’
‘Lewy’ as he is known in his homeland has had the career Harry Kane dreams of, laden with trophies including the Champions League.
Last season he scored 41 Bundesliga goals, breaking the previous record set by legend Gerd Muller.
Poland coach Paulo Sousa readily admits that his team depend on Lewandowski’s goalscoring
Internationally, it’s been harder without anyone to share the burden with. He scored three of Poland’s four goals at Euro 2020 but it wasn’t enough for them to qualify for the knockout stages.
‘Keeping the ball and movement without the ball is something we should improve,’ says Lewandowski.
‘It was nice others scored against Albania (Poland won 4-1) because that can give us confidence. That was the point, the whole team was shooting.’
Lewandowski is hoping home advantage in Warsaw helps particularly as England won’t be allowed travelling fans.
‘At home, we’ve found we are able to successfully compete with teams better than us. We are always stronger at the national stadium than anywhere else,’ he says.
Lewandowski marks his hat-trick goal in Bayern Munich’s recent 5-0 thrashing of Hertha Berlin
‘The most important thing is to first go into the England game with six points so we also have to beat San Marino on Sunday.’.
Lewandowski is into the final two years of his contract at Bayern and there have been noises about him trying to leave at the end of this season if the Bavarian giants don’t offer to extend and outshining Kane this week will be noted by Premier League teams.
Poland also include two Premier League player in their squad, Southampton defender Jan Bednarek and Brighton’s Jakub Moder.
Mateusz Klich of Leeds is ruled out after testing positive for Covid and West Ham goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski has retired from international football. No1 Wojciech Szczesny of Juventus is under pressure after a dodgy spell of form.
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