How far can Lewandowski take Poland at World Cup 2022?

The White and Red hope for a better outcome than at the last World Cup in Russia where they were knocked out in the group stage.

The tournament could be the last chance for striker Robert Lewandowski, 34, to make his mark at a World Cup [Kacper Pempel/Reuters]
  • Previous World Cup appearances: 1938, 1974, 1978, 1982, 1986, 2002, 2006, 2018
  • Titles: 0
  • Best finish: Third (1978 and 1982)
  • World Cup record: W16 D5 L13
  • Goals: 46
  • Biggest win: 7-0 vs Haiti (1974)
  • Player to watch: Robert Lewandowski
  • Ranking: 26
  • Fixtures: Mexico (November 22), Saudi Arabia (November 26), Argentina (November 30)

Poland earned a trip to this year’s World Cup thanks to a battling 2-0 playoff win over Sweden in March, their first victory over the Scandinavian team in more than three decades.

The White and Red had secured their match against the Swedes after Russia, their would-be opponent, were suspended from international competition due to its invasion of Ukraine.

After a scoreless first half, it was Poland’s record goal scorer Robert Lewandowski who broke the deadlock. That, and a string of saves from their experienced Juventus goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny, ensured the team a spot in Qatar.

Before beating Sweden, Poland had a less-than-impressive qualifying campaign, finishing second behind England in their group.

The Poles, who are ranked 26, will make their ninth appearance at the global football competition since their debut at the 1938 showpiece in France.

Poland has seen mixed results at their previous World Cups. Twice the Poles have finished third but since 1982, they have only made it past the group stage once and failed to qualify for the 2010 and 2014 editions of the tournament.

At Russia 2018, the team lost to Senegal and Colombia but were knocked out with a solitary win – against Japan.

This year, the White and Red are in Group C with Mexico and Saudi Arabia, as well as South American giants Argentina, who have won the competition twice.

The star of the team is the Barcelona goal machine Lewandowski. The forward, who joined the Catalan club after a protracted transfer from the German heavyweights Bayern Munich, has more than 600 career goals for club and country.

The tournament could be the last chance for Lewandowski, 34, to make his mark at a World Cup. In 2020, after scoring 41 league goals for Bayern Munich – a record for a Bundesliga season – Lewandowski was crowned FIFA men’s player of the year.

In October, Lewandowski was awarded the Gerd Muller Trophy, given to the best striker of the year.

The Poles will open their campaign against Mexico’s El Tri (The Tricolour) on November 22.

Source: Al Jazeera