Robert Lewandowski will call upon struggles from the early part of his career as he aims to end a barren run on the biggest stages for Poland in Saturday’s Euro 2020 match with Spain.
Poland went down 2-1 in their Group E opener against Slovakia, with Bayern Munich superstar Lewandowski unable to haul his side out of trouble after Grzegorz Krychowiak was sent off and Milan Skriniar hit a 69th-minute winner.
Lewandowski has scored with just two of his 35 shots for Poland at major tournaments, failing to find the net with his past 17 attempts in such games.
However, an overall career return of 66 goals in 120 caps – both national records – mean he is able to look at the bigger picture.
“I never really believed I could reach these figures,” he told UEFA.com when discussing his overall numbers for Poland.
“I remember at the start of my Poland career when I wasn’t scoring many goals – I had problems getting chances, controlling the ball.
“The feeling that if I don’t get a chance, another one will come along and I will still score – well, I remember when it was hard to get that!”
Spain’s goalless draw with Sweden was a game to forget for their own centre-forward, Alvaro Morata.
The Juventus striker missed a glorious chance before half-time and failed to work goalkeeper Robin Olsen with any of his three attempts.
“The big thing is not to think too much about the past. It’s gone,” he told UEFA.com, suggesting the opposite approach to Lewandowski.
“The Sweden game didn’t go as I wanted and I have to accept that. The next day you just work harder to ensure that next time you’ll put it away and win.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Spain – Alvaro Morata
There is already clamour for Villarreal’s prolific Gerard Moreno to be granted an opportunity ahead of Morata after a comparatively lively cameo against Sweden, although the man in possession of the starting spot could crown a good week personally with a strong display, having extended his loan at Juve from Atletico Madrid for another year. The 28-year-old has scored three of Spain’s past four Euros goals and is his country’s leading scorer since the 2016 tournament, with 16 in 32 appearances.
Poland – Mateusz Klich
There will also be emphasis on the supply line to Lewandowski firing to great effect for Poland. Piotr Zielinski led the way with four key passes against Slovakia but Klich only created one chance. There is certainly room for improvement for the Leeds United man, whose four goals and five assists in last season’s Premier League were records in both categories for a Polish player.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– This will be the first meeting between Spain and Poland at a major tournament. Spain have won eight of their 10 matches against Poland, with the sole Polish victory taking place over 40 years ago. Since 2000, Spain have hosted their opponents twice and racked up an aggregate advantage of 9-0.
– After drawing against Sweden, Spain could open a Euros tournament with no wins from their opening two matches for the first time since 1996. They haven’t failed to score in consecutive matches since the 2013 Confederations Cup.
– Poland have won just two of their 12 matches at the European Championship (D6 L4), failing to score more than one goal in any of those 12 encounters.
– Against Sweden, Spain completed 830 passes and recorded a possession figure of 85.1 per cent – both were tournament highs since Opta have full passing data for the Euros.
– Manchester City’s Ferran Torres (seven) was one of only three players born in or after the year 2000 to score at least seven goals in the Premier League in 2020-21.