Robert Lewandowski is turning out to be one of football’s biggest stars, but against Ireland we saw another side of the Pole in full flow.
In the time that this campaign began and finished, it could be said that Robert Lewandowski established himself as the best no.9 in the world. Excelling at club level for Bayern Munich since his move from Borussia Dortmund, he has scored 29 times in 38 matches. On international duty he has scored 32 goals in 72 appearances, 13 of them in this group alone, equaling David Healy’s record for a single campaign. He also assisted four in these EURO qualifiers, scored the fastest hat-trick and had the most shots on target (25).
Stats will always take a considerable bump when you face a team like Gibraltar — statistically the worst team to ever compete in a EURO’s campaign — beating them 8-1 and 7-0, the biggest defeats in qualifying, but their can be no denying how great a player he is for club and country. He scored crucial goals in the games against Scotland and Ireland. So important is he for Poland that many argue that without him the national team would be on a level similar to the Scots and the Irish.
Yet there is one thing from the Ireland match in Warsaw that takes some of the sheen away; he’s a sneaky bastard.
Perhaps it is something that isn’t noticed or talked about so much because of his undeniable ability. But all through the Ireland game Lewandowski took every available opportunity to dive or exaggerate or complain, sometimes all three at the one time. At one point he even gave out about an Irish player diving.
Unreal balls on Lewandowski to complain about diving. #polirl
— Stephen McGoverИ (@TheNoveltyAct) October 11, 2015
I’m not here to be sanctimonious, just to point out that a lot of Irish people watching RTE (and British people watching Sky Sports) probably saw a side to the Polish striker that was on full blast. Maybe it was the occasion or knowing that to win such a tense match he had to do more than just score, but stop the Irish at every opportunity. In any case, it worked. John O’Shea got two needless yellow cards and on both occasions Lewandowski was on the other side of them. He was also on the receiving end of a petty Jon Walters pull down too, who earned himself a one match ban in his frustration for too many yellows.
Lewandowski’s sneakiness may have annoyed everyone watching that game, but he was very good at it, and that’s why he got away with it.