Poland v Slovakia: Lewandowski hoping for Euros lift-off

By Sports Desk June 13, 2021

Poland will look to talisman Robert Lewandowski to improve their paltry European Championship goalscoring returns when they face Slovakia in Euro 2020 Group E.

In their 11 previous matches at the finals, Poland have never scored more than one goal, while they also have a habit of making sluggish starts.

A 1-0 win over Northern Ireland at Euro 2016 was their only win in the past nine tournament openers, with four draws and four defeats elsewhere.

Arkadiusz Milik scored the winner in Nice five year ago, but the 27-year-old forward's subsequent wretched luck with knee injuries struck again this week as he was ruled out of Poland's forthcoming campaign.

Head coach Paulo Sousa has elected not to call up a replacement, placing even more emphasis on Bayern Munich superstar Lewandowski.

The 32-year-old broke Gerd Muller's 49-year-old Bundesliga record by scoring 41 goals in just 29 league games this season, with an overall return of 48 in 40 for Bayern in 2020-21.

"It's a big challenge, not just for me, but for the whole team," Lech Poznan centre-back Lubomir Satka, who will be tasked with trying to shackle Lewandowski, told UEFA.com

"I hope the other guys will help me."

Once upon a time, that task would have been one for Martin Skrtel and the former Slovakia and Liverpool defender is cautiously optimistic over his compatriots' hopes in a tough group that also features Spain and Sweden.

"Everything is possible," he told SPORT. "I don't want to guess, but if we were second to the Spanish, it would be great."

 

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Poland – Robert Lewandowski

His exploits this season took him on to a staggering 277 Bundesliga goals, meaning Lewandowski is only behind Muller (365) in the all-time standings. However, eight previous Euro appearances have yielded only two goals. Surely that record is about to improve for the leading centre-forward in world football?

Slovakia – Juraj Kucka

If Slovakia are to upset the odds, expect Parma's Kucka to be involved. In fact, irrespective of the result, the 34-year-old midfielder is likely to be reasonably visible. He was involved in nine of his club's 39 Serie A goals this season, with seven goals and two assists, while his 15 tackles per-game were the highest average of any midfielder in Italy's top flight.

KEY OPTA FACTS

- Slovakia have won just one of their four previous matches at the European Championship, beating Russia 2-1 in their second match back in 2016.
- Slovakia are making their third appearance at a major tournament, after World Cup 2010 and Euro 2016. They were eliminated in the round of 16 in both of those tournaments.
- Poland were the only team never to trail at any point of a game at Euro 2016 in normal or extra time. They were knocked out on penalties by Portugal in the quarter-finals.
- In March 2021, Kacper Kozlowski became the youngest player to play for the Poland at 17 years and 163 days. He is also the second youngest player to play in the Polish Ekstraklasa (15y 215d).
- Newcastle United goalkeeper Martin Dubravka (101) this season became the third Slovakian to surpass 100 Premier League appearances after Skrtel (242) and Szilard Nemeth (117).

Related items

  • Superb Cole Palmer scores four as Chelsea hit Everton for six Superb Cole Palmer scores four as Chelsea hit Everton for six

    Cole Palmer became the Premier League’s joint-leading scorer this season as his four goals helped Chelsea crush hapless Everton 6-0 at Stamford Bridge.

    The former Manchester City player now has 20 for the campaign and dismantled Sean Dyche’s side almost single-handedly, netting a hat-trick inside the first 29 minutes to breathe genuine momentum into his team’s bid to qualify for Europe.

    This was as complete a first half as Chelsea have managed under Mauricio Pochettino, displaying a clinical edge in front of goal that made the insipid attacking displays of earlier in the season feel like a distant memory.

    It was also a night for individuals. Moises Caicedo at the base of midfield gave a performance full of guile and maturity; rarely had he looked so in command in Chelsea colours.

    Nicolas Jackson, who scored the fourth goal, and Mykhailo Mudryk were superb, further turning the tide of opinion in their favour after slow starts to their careers in blue.

    Then there was Palmer, Chelsea’s talisman, who is surely now a contender to challenge his former Manchester City team-mate Erling Haaland for the Golden Boot.

    This was not a perfect 90 minutes and there are still issues for Pochettino to address. When his team were given a penalty at 4-0 up in the second half, there was the unsavoury spectacle of a physical altercation as Jackson and Noni Madueke each tried to take the ball from the appointed taker Palmer. It pointed to a failure of discipline and leadership that the manager must surely address.

    But it could not sour a fine night for home fans in west London, capped off fittingly when academy graduate Alfie Gilchrist fired in his first goal for the club in stoppage time.

    Chelsea had started the game sluggishly, narrowly avoiding going behind after nine minutes when Beto missed the target from four yards.

    As so often this season it required intervention from Palmer to shake them to life. Receiving the ball deep from Malo Gusto, he impudently nutmegged Jarrad Branthwaite, played a one-two with Jackson, then curled his finish wide of the dive of Jordan Pickford for his first goal of a remarkable first half.

    Soon the floodgates were open. After 17 minutes, Mudryk was played in down the left by Jackson who, receiving it back from the Ukrainian, shot first time. Pickford beat the ball out, but only to the feet of the arriving Palmer who grabbed his second.

    His finish for 3-0 was exquisite, but the opportunity came gift-wrapped from Pickford. The England goalkeeper tried to pick out Amadou Onana but came up short with his pass. In nipped Palmer and, undaunted by the 45-yard distance to goal, lobbed it into the net for his hat-trick.

    Jackson made it four before the break, showing exquisite touch to drag Marc Cucurella’s cross out of the air before turning and guiding the ball beyond the goalkeeper’s grasp into the corner.

    The 22-year-old has shown significant improvement in recent weeks, and his 13th goal of the season was surely his best so far for Chelsea.

    Palmer argued away Jackson and Madueke to make it five from the penalty spot just past the hour mark, then Gilchrist drilled into the bottom corner from Pickford’s parry at the death, as Chelsea moved to within three points of the top six.

  • Alejandro Garnacho spoken to by Erik ten Hag over social media activity Alejandro Garnacho spoken to by Erik ten Hag over social media activity

    Manchester United’s Alejandro Garnacho has been spoken to by Erik ten Hag after the winger liked social media posts criticising the manager’s handling of the player.

    The Argentinian, taken off at half-time of their 2-2 draw at Bournemouth, liked two messages on X, formerly Twitter, by YouTuber Mark Goldbridge.

    One read: “Ten Hag subtly blaming Garnacho in the post match press conference… not a good look throwing a 19 year old under the bus who has actually delivered for you this season. But then again he’s clearly scared of upsetting the bigger earners.”

    The other said Garnacho “had a poor first half but taking him off at half time and holding him up as the problem is a joke”.

    Garnacho swiftly ‘unliked’ both messages – an action the club believes shows contrition – and a United source told the PA news agency the matter had been dealt with internally.

    In September Jadon Sancho’s post on X, saying he had been made a “scapegoat” and “I will not allow people saying things that (are) completely untrue” – interpreted as accusing Ten Hag of misrepresenting reasons why the winger was not in the side – led to the 24-year-old being banished from the first team before being loaned to Borussia Dortmund in January.

  • Fast-rising Reggae Boy, Kaheim Dixon, to consider future move after Jamaica Premier League season concludes Fast-rising Reggae Boy, Kaheim Dixon, to consider future move after Jamaica Premier League season concludes

    Kaheim Dixon, the talented young footballer currently representing Arnett Gardens in the Jamaica Premier League, is preparing to make a crucial decision about his future once the season concludes. Dixon, who has garnered interest from several European clubs and who has a preference for playing in Belgium, is weighing his options as he looks to further his career on the international stage.

    An exciting prospect while playing for DaCosta Cup champions, Clarendon College, Dixon's impressive performances on the field have caught the attention of scouts and club representatives, sparking discussions about potential opportunities abroad. With a strong desire to continue his development in a competitive environment, Dixon sees Europe as an ideal destination to advance his skills with Belgium being his preferred destination.

    "I'm focused on finishing the Jamaica Premier League season with Arnett Gardens before considering my next move," Dixon told Sportsmax.TV.

    Dixon's decision-making process will involve consultations with his club officials and discussions with his family to determine the best path forward for his career but explains his preference for where he would like to end up.

    "Playing in Belgium appeals to me because of their commitment to developing young players."

    Dixon made his senior debut for Jamaica’s Reggae Boys during the semi-finals of the CONCACAF Nations League against regional powerhouse, the United States and acquitted himself fairly well. His performance also convinced him that he is ready to play professional football.

    Reflecting on his CONCACAF Nations League campaign, Dixon shared insights from his experience. "I learned a lot. You have to be disciplined on and off the field," Dixon remarked. "In the game, you have to adjust quickly; only dribble in the attacking third."

    In response to the interest from European clubs, Dixon acknowledged the opportunity but stressed the need for continuous improvement. For now, though, he remains focused on winning the Jamaica Premier League title for Arnett Gardens.

    "It's a good thing that clubs are interested, but I've still got to improve on my season as well," he said.

     

     

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.