Lewandowski is the weapon to revive Poland in the World Cup

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The last time Poland advanced from the group stage of the World Cup, Brazil had Socrates in midfield and Josimar on the right side. They were two of the players to score goals in the South American team’s 4-0 victory over the Europeans in the round of 16 in 1986.

One of the striking scenes of that match was the punch given by Marek Ostrowski in the stomach of Socrates before taking a corner. In pre-VAR years, the move was not seen by the referee and nothing happened.

Those were years when Poland was undergoing a transition that would place it as a peripheral football team after a decade of prosperity. It was the end of the generation of Lato, Zmuda and then Boniek, who had been third in the 1974 and 1982 World Cups and reached the semifinals (in a group of four teams) in 1978.

But even in the golden age the Poles didn’t have an offensive weapon as lethal as the 2022 team. The Qatar World Cup could be the last opportunity for Robert Lewandowski, 34, to get a significant result with his country.

Twice the best in the world by FIFA (2020 and 2021), he won this month the award for main striker of last season, given by French magazine France Football during the Ballon d’Or ceremony.

It won’t be Lewandowski’s first World Cup. He was present in Russia four years ago, but it wasn’t enough to make Poland qualify in a group that also had Senegal, Japan and Colombia.

“The pressure that comes with the expectations of our fans and the whole country is enormous, and I am aware of that. I have and I want to feel motivated to show them what I can do on the pitch. I have to always find the solution and try to do my best”, said the striker in an interview with the FIFA website.

It will not be an easy task. Although Saudi Arabia is considered a weak rival in Group C, the team will also face Lionel Messi’s Argentina and Mexico, who have qualified for the round of 16 in the last seven tournaments. The debut will be against the Mexicans, on November 22.

Whoever considers that the favorite to finish first is Argentina will realize that the opening round is the most decisive for Poland.

If they are far from the technical quality of the team that defeated Brazil in the dispute for third place in the 1974 World Cup, the Poles go to Qatar with an experienced base and accustomed to important matches in the European championships. Even if they are not that reliable pieces, like the goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny, 32, from Juventus (ITA), a player who marked his career by great saves followed by failures minutes later.

In all sectors of the cast there are experienced names. In defense, Kamil Glik, 34, from Benevento (ITA) should appear. In midfield, Grzegorz Krychowiak, 32, from Al Shabab (ARS) is expected to be called up. In attack, Krzysztof Piatek, 27, from Salernitana (ITA), and Arkadiusz Milik, 28, from Juventus (ITA), are candidates to help Lewandowski up front.

In addition to the obvious choice of shirt 9, who should draw attention in the team is midfielder Piotr Zielinski, 28, from Napoli. He is one of the main players in the campaign of the leading team in the Italian Championship.

The tactical scheme of coach Czeslaw Michniewicz, 52, includes a 4-2-3-1 to give greater defensive stability and make the ball reach Zielinksi, who has the function of providing Lewandowski in the attack.

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