The brief

Throughout the Euros we’ll be giving scouting reports on players who are rumoured to be heading to the Premier League. We begin with Polish hit man Robert Lewandowski who bagged an astonishing 30 goals for Borussia Dortmund last term and, according to his national coach at least, seems destined for Old Trafford.

However Arsenal and Manchester City are also said to be keen with Liverpool and Spurs now apparently out of the reckoning.

Having capped his impressive campaign with a hat-trick against Bayern Munich in last month’s German Cup final the 23 year old enters the Euros fit, firing and oozing with confidence. Born the proverbial stone’s throw from the National Stadium in Warsaw and with his nation looking to him to spearhead their hopes to progress beyond Group A this is the player’s time to shine. Aside from his undoubted talent it will be revealing of his psychological make-up as to how he responds to such expectation and pressure.

Poland’s opening opponents Greece are expected to be tight and defensive so it will also be interesting to see how Lewandowski ‘works’ them and creates space in congested areas.

The game

Poland state their intent right from the opening whistle pressing high and depriving the Greeks the opportunity to settle. Within the first 15 minutes our man has two chances – neither spurned but unconverted due to a poor final ball – and what is particularly encouraging is how Lewandowski has the strength to remain goal-side despite some desperate last-ditch Greek defending. He shrugs off grapples and pulls with ease.

Outside the box he routinely shows a neat touch and links up well bringing others into play. When seeking possession his movement is intelligent, dropping ten yards deep and always giving his marker a dilemma.

It is noticeable how Lewandowski remains central throughout the 90 minutes, content to occupy the centre-backs and rarely seeking space down the channels – no surprise given how Poland utilise the wide areas to such potent effect doubling up with attacking full-backs on each side.

The goal is a combination of all of the qualities mentioned above.

At first glance a swift move down the right results in a cross for Lewandowski to nod home but note how he resists the temptation to dart into the box and instead drifts into the vast space offered by an admittedly atrocious Greek back four. By doing so he times his run to perfection, planting the ball into the ground with a thrusting header in an impressively assured manner.

Understandably his strike spurs him into upping his already impressive work-rate but what is particularly satisfying is that he doesn’t lose his head amidst the elation and go hunting here and there – he still holds his position and keeps the team shape.

Compared to his opposite number Gekas who cuts an isolated, ineffectual figure, Lewandowski always looks a menace and a handful for the duration of the first period.

With Greece undeservedly a man down for the second half it was inevitable they would become much more compact and condense the spaces. Furthermore the introduction of the brilliant young prospect Kyriakos Papadopoulos brought much better organisation to their rearguard.

So the onus now fell to the Polish creative midfielders to pick the locks with Lewandowski simply required to move the defenders around when in possession and occupy them when not (to deprive the ten men of an easy out and allow them a chance to catch their breath by knocking it around the back). Strangely, when only basic work rate was necessary, it was at this juncture that the player drifted into anonymity becoming a passenger in the game for a lengthy spell.

Greece scored a surprise equaliser and scented victory gradually gaining the upper hand whilst at the other end Lewandowski became increasingly isolated.

Crucially however this was because he allowed himself to become isolated by rigidly keeping to the game plan that was so successful earlier and refusing to drift into wide areas. The rhythm of the match had changed. Lewandowski did not.

There was an occasional touch here, an expertly weighted pass there and a flick or two – and it should be highlighted here that he won the baulk of his aerial duels and was rarely content merely to flick it beyond him, instead cushioning or redirecting into the path of a team-mate with superb awareness under pressure. But overall the second half was a hugely disappointing display from a player who showed so much threat in the first.


Tempting to suggest this was a game of two halves but there was more than enough evidence in the opening 45 to prove that he’s a class apart even at this level. When immersed in sweeping, quick-paced attacks he looks the absolute business which will have old Fergie salivating. There is however a touch of the Berbatovs that needs drumming out of him should he prove to be a hit in the Prem.