Poland striker Robert Lewandowski is hoping to find his way past England goalkeeper Joe Hart in FIFA World Cup Group H having failed to do so in the UEFA Champions League two weeks ago.
Hart held moderately firm in the face of intense Borussia Dortmund pressure as Manchester City FC snatched a 1-1 draw at home against the German champions on matchday two, and as Poland seek their first win against England in 39 years, Lewandowski is determined to take his chances this time. "The fact that I did not beat Joe Hart in the Champions League does not mean I won't beat him in with the national team," he said.
Opportunities came Lewandowski's way at the City of Manchester Stadium, but while he failed to take them, his nerve has not been shaken. "That does not worry me," said Lewandowski, whose fiancée Anna Stachurska won a Traditional Karate silver medal at the ITKF World Championships earlier this month. "This is a different game and another opportunity to score against Hart. He is a very good goalkeeper but he can be beaten like anybody else."
England are something of a bogey team for Poland. The nations' 17 international meetings have ended in ten England wins, six draws – including a famous 1-1 at Wembley which sent Poland to the 1974 FIFA World Cup finals at their hosts' expense – but just one win, 2-0 in Chorzow on 6 June 1973, when Robert Gadocha and Włodzimierz Lubański scored the goals. Tellingly, six of the sides' last seven games have ended in England wins.
"There is no doubt that England are the favourites, but we want to cause an upset and win," said the 24-year-old Lewandowski. "
I know it is going to be extremely difficult, but sometimes football is unpredictable. For example: I had more good chances against Manchester City than against theoretically weaker Hannover 96 in the subsequent Bundesliga game [he scored in a 1-1 draw]. Maybe it will be the same on Tuesday ‒ maybe I will get chances and score."
For some months, English clubs have been said to be tracking Lewandowski, but talk of scouts attending Tuesday's game was of little interest to the former KKS Lech Poznań player. "I have got used to being watched, so I don't think one game will determine my future," said Lewandowski. "Scouts have enough chances to watch me in the Champions League or the Bundesliga. Will I play in the Premier League? Maybe one day. We will see."
For the moment, Poland is his main priority. Rested in Friday's 1-0 friendly win against South Africa – their first success at the new National Arena Warsaw – he is hoping that the surface will be ready for a great encounter. Captain Marcin Wasilewski had jokingly blamed the patchy state of the turf on a recent Madonna concert at the stadium ("Maybe he heels were too high and she destroyed the pitch") but Lewandowski feels an unpredictable surface may favour his side.
"Our players already know this pitch, so maybe we will be able to take advantage," he concluded, mindful that with the odds against them, Poland can use all the help they can get.