James and Lewandowski set for highly charged World Cup clash

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They’re partners in attack for FC Bayern, but James Rodríguez and Robert Lewandowski will be opponents in Kazan on Sunday evening (20:00 CEST). Colombia and Poland face each other in Group H in what is practically a must-win match for both sides. Should either lose, their chances of reaching the knockout stage could be all but over.

James only played the final half-hour of Colombia’s opening 2-1 defeat to Japan because of a calf injury, and he was missed. Now the 26 year-old is ready to start. “He’s feeling very good,” reported coach José Pékerman. “He’s worked very hard over the last few days. We hope he’ll be in top form. He’s a key player for us.”

Lewandowski marked out

Poland midfielder Piotr Zielinski described James as “the engine of the Colombia team. We need to be well prepared to nullify him.” The Colombians, meanwhile, are looking to take Poland’s captain Robert Lewandowski out of the game. “We need to man-mark him and keep our eye on him the whole time,” said right-back Santiago Arias. “We want to win every single tackle.”

The Poles also lost 2-1 in their first match against Senegal and are now determined to give everything in search of their first win of the tournament. “We’re trying to blank out the criticism,” commented midfielder Grzegorz Krychowiak. Their coach, Adam Nawalka, stressed: “We’ve not forgotten how to play football.”