Ever since he moved to Bayern Munich and when he finally settled in, Robert Lewandowski is looking like a different man altogether. His performances for club and country since the start of the 2015/16 season have been nothing short of amazing.
He has scored 16 goals for Bayern Munich in 11 games and 8 goals for Poland in 4 games during their Euro 2016 Qualification campaign. Beating the Republic of Ireland will guarantee them a top 2 spot in their Group and a trip to the Euro 2016 tournament.
Considering that he has scored in 4 consecutive matches for his country and leads the qualification goal tally with 12 goals (add 5 assists to that, making him responsible for 17 of the 31 goals scored by Poland), what’s to stop him from taking the fight to Ireland and going away with 3 points.
So, what really caused the change?
Firstly, as a player Lewandowski has operated as the centre forward and also with good effect, as a second striker. However, when he joined Bayern he would be rotating between playing as the striker and as a left winger to allow the likes of Muller or Robben to sometimes take a central role. He would be able to provide the occasional assist but was unable to do much from an unfamiliar position.
However, this term as Bayern added more depth to the wings and centre of midfield and with injuries to Robben and Ribery early in the season meant he would flourish in an attacking trio of himself, Muller and Douglas Costa (the latter 2 on the wings and Lewandowski in the central role). This has paid dividends. It has boosted his confidence and nothing more than his now famous, 5 goal salvo against last season’s runners-up, Wolfsburg.
This confidence and a good run of form have continued to his international play. He has scored in 4 consecutive matches as mentioned earlier and he has broken Scottish Hearts by scoring 2 against them, the draw ensuring Scotland are mathematically unable to qualify for the Euro 2016.
In Poland, he does not have the quality of service that he receives at Bayern, but he is playing in his familiar position as a striker (along with another striker up along side with him). The polish wingers have the pace to really supply him with ammunition and it’s paid off well.
If they can win against Ireland, Lewandowski will once again be the man to lead the Polish at the Euro’s, like he was set to do in 2012. However, if he can maintain this form, he will be coming into the tournament as the most in-form striker in Europe.