Poland head to Euro 2016 with one of the world’s best strikers, Robert Lewandowski, on top form as he prepares to lead the White and Reds’ charge.
The 27-year-old helped secure Poland’s Euro berth with 13 goals in the qualifying campaign to equal David Healy’s record, set in the qualifiers for Euro 2008 while playing for Northern Ireland.
With 34 goals in 75 games for Poland, it seems only a matter of time before Lewandowski breaks his country’s all-time record of 48 scored by Wlodzimierz Lubanski in the 1960s and 70s.
Poland coach Adam Nawalka says he would swap Lewandowski for neither Cristiano Ronaldo nor Lionel Messi, such is the worth he puts on his goal-scoring skipper above the world’s best players.
“I would not change Robert for any other player in the world, even Messi and Ronaldo,” said Nawalka.
“We are fortunate to be able to select one of the best players in the world.”
Bayern Munich’s Lewandowski made history at the start of the season by coming off the bench to send Bundesliga records tumbling with five goals in nine minutes in a 5-1 rout of Wolfsburg.
He has not stopped scoring since.
Lewandowski first forged his reputation in four seasons at Borussia Dortmund, netting a hat-trick against his future employers Bayern in the 2012 German Cup final, then netting four in the 2013 Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid.
– Bayern’s anxious wait -Despite Dortmund’s best efforts to keep him, he walked away to join rivals Bayern on a free transfer in 2014.
His goal-scoring form in Bayern’s run to the Champions League’s semi-finals means that most Europe’s top clubs with deep pockets and a thirst for titles have been linked to him.
Lewandowski’s deal until 2019 currently pays him around nine million euros ($10 million) per season.
But Bayern want to offer Lewandowski a two-year extension — and would need to double his pay to around the 18 million euros Real Madrid reportedly offered him, while English teams Liverpool and Manchester City have also been linked to him.
His high-work rate around the box means Lewandowski is a threat on the ground or in the air and he can finish or create chances for others.
“In modern football, you can’t just lurk in the penalty area, waiting for balls, as the classic strikers used to do,” Lewandowski told German daily Die Welt.
“You have to play. I’m always trying to tear up some space for other players to use.
“Many teams play against us (Bayern) with six defenders and at least two defensive midfielders.
“So it’s not always easy, but I have to be patient and always try and find new solutions to problems.”
The European Championship will be another chance for Lewandowski to showcase his phenomenal talent.
With Carlo Ancelotti to replace Pep Guardiola as Bayern’s head coach next season, Lewandowski is keeping his cards close to his chest about his future plans as Munich’s bosses try and tie down his future past 2019.
Lewandowski scored the opening goal of Euro 2012 and he looks set to add to his tally at European finals in France.