-Poland are preparing to face Portugal in the Euro 2016 quarter-finals
-Robert Lewandowski has yet to score at the European Championship
-Poland are relying on their striker to find his shooting boots in France
Cristiano Ronaldo will not be the only superstar on show on Thursday night in Marseille.
The majority of eyes, no doubt, will be on the man from Real Madrid, the 31-year-old who throws tantrums and is aiming to break Michel Platini’s goalscoring record at the European Championship.
Yet at the other end will be the 27-year-old from Bayern Munich, searching for his first goal at Euro 2016 and aiming to prove Poland’s manager right.
Poland coach Adam Nawalka this week claimed Robert Lewandowski was the best No 9 at the tournament, despite him having not added to his 34 goals for his country at the competition in France.
According to Nawalka, it is down to the officials at Euro 2016 that his striker has not scored yet for Poland after 30 goals in 32 appearances for Munich in the Bundesliga last season.
Lewandowski has been fouled 16 times at Euro 2016 ‒ more than any other player in the tournament ‒ and Poland know it.
‘The referees should be paying attention to the brutal fouls in general that some are using to stop their opponents,’ Nawalka said.
‘The referees need to make sure these fouls are picked up and that they react quickly with yellow and red cards if necessarily.’
Brutal is a strong word to use and Felix Brych, the German referee, can take this as a word of warning.
Before the tournament started, Lewandowski was 14/1 to finish as top goalscorer. Now, he is 66/1.
Poland beat Northern Ireland 1-0, drew 0-0 with Germany and won 1-0 against Ukraine in Group C. They then drew 1-1 with Switzerland and scraped through 5-4 on penalties.
Three goals in total this tournament ‒ as many as Gareth Bale for Wales, Antoine Griezmann for France and Alvaro Morata for Spain ‒ yet Poland have still made it to this stage.
Lewandowski has yet to find his shooting boots but this is a striker who can seemingly turn it on at any time, and that’s what he needs to prove at Euro 2016.
For Munich last season, his goals-per-game average was 1.02. He averaged 4.24 shots per 90 minutes, with 2.51 of those on target, and so he got a goal every 89 minutes.
For Poland, he has managed just 1.15 shots per game and only 0.46 on target.
Service could be an issue, with Lewandowski himself creating the chances rather than them being created for him.
For Munich, he created 0.75 chances per 90 minutes last season. For Poland, he has created 1.38 at Euro 2016.
Lewandowski ended as top goalscorer in Euro 2016 qualifying with 13 ‒ two more than Zlatan Ibrahimovic for Sweden.
The former Paris Saint-Germain striker failed to score for Sweden at Euro 2016 and they were knocked out. If Lewandowski does not turn it on against Portugal, then they could be out too.
It’s no secret that Poland’s manager, players and supporters are waiting for Lewandowski to get going at the European Championship.
‘We don’t have a single problem with the fact Robert hasn’t scored a goal,’ Nawalka said in his defence.
They didn’t in the group stage but, now that a spot in the semi-finals is up for grabs, Poland know they need their talisman to start scoring.