World Cup 2022 Group C: Poland pin hopes on Lewandowski

Barcelona striker remains his national team's key player and his form will be crucial to their campaign

Poland's Robert Lewandowski, centre, celebrates with teammates after scoring against Belgium in a Uefa Nations League match in June, 2022. AP
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Poland will like their chances of advancing out of the group phase, a feat not achieved since 1986, but they will need their talisman Robert Lewandowski to be firing on all cylinders.

It has been a mixed bag of results for Czeslaw Michniewicz’s side recently, with a 6-1 loss to Belgium in the Nations League demonstrating the team's vulnerability against high-class opposition.

However, Poland finished second in a competitive World Cup qualifying group, which included England and Hungary. They managed to hold England to a draw in Warsaw, demonstrating that they can compete with genuine tournament contenders.

Poland will also be accustomed to knockout football should they advance from the last 16, having shown up when it mattered against Sweden to win their playoff 2-0 to qualify for the World Cup.

All eyes will be on striker Lewandowski, who will need to lead from the front if Poland are going to have any chance of progressing in Qatar. The Barcelona striker, 34, is still operating at the highest level, notching an incredible 50 goals in 46 appearances in all competitions in his final year at Bayern Munich last season, and starting his time at Barca in similarly prolific fashion.

What will be of concern for Poland is their lack of clean sheets, which are vital in tournament football. If Poland can tighten up at the back, they leave themselves in a good position with the strength they have in forward areas.

It looks as if the key game for Poland will come against Mexico. A win against Saudi Arabia should be a formality, and while Argentina may prove a step too far, Mexico will equally fancy their chances of qualifying from the group.

The last three World Cups for Poland have represented disappointments with group stage exits on each occasion, but exposure to knockout football and possessing one of the the best strikers in the world puts them in good stead for the tournament.

Manager: Czeslaw Michniewicz

Star player: Robert Lewandowski

One to watch: Piotr Zielinski

World Cups appeared in: 1938, 1974, 1978, 1982, 1986, 2002, 2006. 2018

Fixtures: Nov 22 - Mexico v Poland; Nov 26 - Poland v Saudi Arabia; Nov 30 - Poland v Argentina

Updated: September 28, 2022, 8:58 AM