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Robert Lewandowski: “Mexico have lots of quality”

The Polish National Team is already on World Cup land and they immediately set their sights on the Mexican National Team, whom they will face on November 22.

Roddy Cons
Doha, QatarUpdate:
Poland, and Robert Lewandowski, will be Mexico's first opponents in the 2022 World Cup in Qatar on Tuesday, 22 November

The Mexican national team get their 2022 World Cup campaign underway against Poland on Tuesday, 22 November. Despite being the opening game for both teams, it could prove a decisive one as they look to qualify for the knockout stages. Already settled in Doha, Poland coach Czesław Michniewicz and star striker Robert Lewandowski conducted their first World Cup press conference and praised the strengths of Gerardo Martino’s side.

Lewandowski, who has only played in one World Cup and has never scored in the tournament, is undoubtedly Poland’s main threat and the attacker was the star attraction for the media in attendance. The Barcelona number 9 is well aware of the importance of the clash against Mexico and insisted that it wouldn’t be an easy game because of El Tri’s “quality soccer”, highlighting the pace, dynamism and quality possessed by the Mexicans.

“Mexico will play their own game. This is an important game for us. It’s important that we show confidence. We know Mexico play high quality soccer, we know their potential. We’ll fight to win and we’ll do our best. They have a lot of quality and pace, and are dynamic. We’ll have to be ready to stop them causing us problems.”

Lewandowski was also asked about the prospect of facing Argentina, one of the favourites to win the tournament, and gave a similar answer: “We’re focused on the Mexico game. The first two matches can change the way we approach the game against Argentina. Argentina are very dangerous, they’re one of the favourites. We know we’re not the best team in the group but we’ll do our best. We know that being efficient is one of the most important things in a tournament like this. We have to adapt our strategy regardless of who we’re playing against.”

The former Bayern Munich man also knows that Poland’s opponents will be out to stop him, which means he will be doing his bit to free up space for his teammates to ‘surprise’ the opposition in the penalty box. “Defenders will be worried about me but I’ll be able to use that to my advantage and help create space for my teammates in front of goal. Opposing teams tend to focus on me a lot but we know that’s how they play. We have to be ready for it and use the spaces they leave to create chances.”

Lewandowski doesn’t know what the future holds for him and whether the Qatar World Cup could be his last. He also had words of advice for his younger teammates: “I don’t know if this will be my last World Cup. I hope to continue playing in three or four years but a lot of factors could affect that.”

“It’s hot but we’re ready. The conditions will be the same for everyone. I’ve tried to get closer to the young players to see how they’re feeling. My advice is not to get stressed. It’s a World Cup, the atmosphere in the camp is really good, the boys are motivated and smiling a lot. I hope we can get off to a good start.”

Poland coach Czesław Michniewicz, meanwhile, didn’t reveal how his team would set up to play against Mexico on 22 November and also highlighted that Lewandowski could be used to draw opponents’ attention away from other players.

“When we play with defensive-minded players in midfield, we play well. We’ve got a few players who can play that role. But I won’t tell you how we’re going to play against Mexico. Mexico’s game against Sweden hasn’t changed anything, it confirmed what we were already thinking. We’ll start preparing for that game tomorrow, we’ll do some tactical work in the afternoon. Opposition teams always tend to target Robert but he could find some space in certain areas of the pitch that’ll free up other players.”