Football

Lonely Lewandowksi fails on the biggest stage

Robert Lewandowski.

Robert Lewandowski.   | Photo Credit: ADRIAN DENNIS

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The Bayern Munich striker has drawn a blank so far

When Robert Lewandowski gave clubmate James Rodriguez a big hug after Poland was eliminated from the World Cup by Colombia on Sunday, it must have given him a bitter-sweet reminder of the sort of service he gets at Bayern Munich.

With the likes of Rodriguez, Frank Ribery and Thomas Muller on hand to create chances, Lewandowski has managed 106 Bundesliga goals in four seasons and is one of the most prolific strikers in the game.

He has been in a rich vein of form at international level too, leading Poland to the finals with 16 goals, including hat-tricks against Gibraltar, Georgia and Armenia, in 10 qualifiers to help take his total tally to 55.

“Hello my brother James Rodriguez,” the 29-year-old tweeted after the draw last December paired Poland and Colombia in Group H. “I remember your great goals during the last World Cup. I hope you remember mine from Russia.”

Sadly, unless he manages to grab a hatful in the final group match against Japan on Thursday — a dead rubber for the Poles — Lewandowski will have nothing to remember.

Playing at what could be his first and last World Cup, Lewandowksi drew a blank in his first two matches in Russia, lending credence to doubts about his ability to score goals on the biggest of stages.

He mustered only one goal at Euro 2012 and another at Euro 2016 as the Poles reached the quarterfinals, while his record in the latter stages of the Champions League for Bayern is also patchy.

Obviously the subject of much attention from opposition defences, Lewandowksi was shackled by the Senegalese in Poland’s opening 2-1 loss and similarly man-marked, often by two or more defenders, by Colombia in the 3-0 defeat.

While Rodriguez provided assists for two goals at the other end of the Kazan Arena, what was quickly apparent was that Poland’s tactics were limited to hoofing long balls in their captain’s general direction.

Missed chances

Lewandowksi effectively had two chances —his first touch letting him down with one, and Colombia goalkeeper David Ospina tipping the second, a thumping drive, over the bar.

“I was alone, we fought, I fought, I did everything I could,” he told Polish TV in some brutally candid comments after the match.

“But fighting is not enough to win World Cup matches, you also have to have quality, and we had too little of that.”

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Printable version | Dec 12, 2019 11:07:04 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/football/lonely-lewandowksi-fails-on-the-biggest-stage/article24255996.ece

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