Saturday 26 May 2018

Poland ready to unleash 'unstoppable' Robert Lewandowski on Ireland

Poland's Robert Lewandowski
Poland's Robert Lewandowski

Aidan Fitzmaurice in Warsaw

Poland plan to unleash the player they deem to be the best forward in world football against Ireland in Warsaw tomorrow night to make sure they go to France 2016 automatically and avoid the playoffs.

The Poles, who will finish in the top two in Group D ahead of Ireland unless they lose or draw 2-2, will have a full house in Warsaw's Stadion Narodowy. They also have a top-class talent in captain Robert Lewandowski who, with his two-goal blast in Thursday's draw in Scotland, made it 14 goals from his last five games for Bayern Munich and Poland.

"I have been this asked may times, but at the moment he is the best No. 9 in the world," Poland coach Adam Nawalka said of Polish captain Lewandowski at the pre-match press conference. "He is developing all the time and I don't think there is anyone who can stop him."

Nawalka has watched the DVD of Ireland's win over Germany and while he admits that the Irish victory was unexpected, he feels he has done enough homework to deal with the visitors.

"We analysed Ireland and their style, so we are well-prepared, we know their strong and weak sides, but we are focused on ourselves and what we have to do to deliver on the pitch," he explained.

"Tomorrow is a very important game for us and we have to have full concentration.

We prepare the same whether we play Ireland or Scotland or Germany or Georgia and we are well prepared for this.

"It was unexpected, for Ireland to win against Germany. Both teams played to a very high level, but we know that any result is possible.

"Germany had more possession but it comes down to the goals you score, Ireland did better on that front so we know it will be difficult. A hard game awaits us but we are ready for it."

It's not all smiles for the Poles as they have to make two changes to their side for the game tomorrow. Forward Arkadiusz Milik and defender Maciej Rybus picked up injuries in Scotland and are out of the game.

"An injury to one player is a chance for another," said Nawalka, who said Jakub Wawrzyniak (Lechia Gdansk) and Artur Sobiech (Hannover) will come in to replace the absent duo.

"I have picked good players, exceptional players, and I know that tomorrow we will meet the country's expectations."

Wawrzyniak said: "We are not thinking of the play-off, all we are thinking about is winning the game. We have proven that we have an identity in our side, we can count on every player in our side and I feel that tomorrow night we will be happy because of the result."

Poland can qualify for the Euro finals for only the third time in their history by avoiding defeat, or a high-scoring draw, at home to Ireland.

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