During Poland’s 4-1 World Cup qualifying win over Albania last week, Robert Lewandowski carried his Bayern Munich form right over to the international level and scored his 70th international goal. He also provided a sensational assist for Grzegorz Krychowiak for Poland’s third goal of the match. He’s coming off of a record-breaking 41 goals in the Bundesliga for Bayern last season, but his supporting cast with the German champions is, without question, far stronger than his supporting cast with Poland.
In their last of three qualifiers of the international break, Poland play host to England in Warsaw. Gareth Southgate’s side are currently sitting atop UEFA qualifying Group I with a perfect record, but Poland will try to stop that next week and prevent England from clinching top spot in the group with 5 more qualifiers to go after that.
Speaking ahead of the clash, Poland manager Paulo Sousa didn’t shy away from admitting that his side is heavily dependent on Lewandowski to get results (Daily Mail). While Poland does have a few other high profile players like Wojciech Szczęsny (Juventus) and Krzysztof Piątek (Hertha Berlin), the weight of burden is always on Lewandowski’s shoulders. Sousa is well aware of that and knows it will take something special to get a result against an England side that nearly won their first title since 1966 this summer. “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,” he said.
It certainly takes a team performance to get positive results, especially against a side like England, but Sousa continued by being realistic about Lewandowski’s level compared to the rest of the Polish national team. “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. 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,” he stressed.
So far this break, though, both Sousa and Lewandowski feel they have seen some great things from the rest of the Polish squad. Lewandowski’s header in the Albania win was a prime example of a team goal having the right striker in the right place at the right time. “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 favor,” Sousa explained.
In addition to Lewandowski and Krychowiak, Adam Buksa and Karol Linetty also got on the score sheet for Poland in the win against Albania, which is something Lewandowski loved to see. “It was nice others scored against Albania because that can give us confidence. That was the point, the whole team was shooting,” he urged. “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 continued, confident they can rise to the occasion against the Three Lions.