Opening match: World Player of the Year Lewandowski steps onto the Euro stage
On the fourth matchday of the tournament, the World Player of the Year enters the big Euro stage.Robert Lewandowski and Poland meet Slovakia in their first game of the finals on Monday night (18.00 CEST in St Petersburg) – fcbayern.com looks forward to the match.
The starting point
In addition to the opening opponents Slovakia, Poland play Sweden and Spain in Group E. The latter are probably the favourites to win the group while Lewandowski and Co. will have to battle for one of the remaining places in the Round of 16. This makes the opening match against the southerly neighbours important if they are going to progress through the group in a repeat of the last Euro finals. "We can't make any mistakes, we have to be ready. We'll have to find gaps in the Slovakian team, a well-organised team that defends well," was the assessment of national coach Paolo Sousa. Poland will probably have to up their performance levels – they have only clocked up one win in the five internationals since the start of the year (3-0 against Andorra plus three draws and one defeat).
Focus on Lewandowski
With three goals in three internationals in 2021, Lewandowski has shown the ability to score for his country that reflects his41-goal record season respected far beyond the borders of Europe. The best striker in the national team's history (66 goals in 119 games) clearly has an exceptional position in the Polish team – which doesn't always make it easy for him. At Euro 2016, the 32-year-old Bayern player was closely marked by the opposition and that is expected once again in this tournament: "But that provides a chance for other players," said Lewandowski before adding: "We have to make the most of it. I think there's great potential in the team."
Lewandowski displayed his special ability in the build-up to the tournament:
Like Poland, the opposition Slovakia went through to the knockout rounds at Euro 2016 – and that is also the target this summer. Slovakia are unbeaten in 2021 (one win, four draws), which also makes coach Štefan Tarkovič confident of making a good start to the tournament: "Poland are ahead of us in the FIFA rankings and we go into this tournament as the underdog but I think the teams are equally strong."