Lewandowski pleased to be back in Poznan
Dortmund striker has enjoyed good times for in city where Irish suffered double defeat
Poland captain Robert Lewandowski during yesterday’s press conference at the Municipal Stadium, Poznan. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho
Five years to the day after he helped Poland to inflict a first defeat as Ireland manager on Giovanni Trapattoni Robert Lewandowski will be aiming to do the same to Martin O’Neill this evening here in Poznan which has been a happy hunting ground for the Borussia Dortmund striker.
With ticket sales slow amongst locals and only a few hundred Irish expected to be inside the stadium Miejski, the 25- year-old former favourite in these parts was wheeled out for yesterday’s Poland press conference in the hope of stirring up a little more interest.
Lewandowski got 32 goals in 58 games for Lech Poznan during his time here and helped them to the league title in 2010 before moving on to the Bundesliga. Having run down his contract at Dortmund he is expected to move next summer, most likely to Bayern Munich but attempts to touch on his future were dealt with pretty sternly by a federation press office intent on promoting tonight’s game.
Poor qualifying campaign
After a poor World Cup qualifying campaign, though, and a disappointing defeat by Slovakia in Wroclaw on Friday, he was finding it hard to strike upon any sort of appealing sales pitch. “Our last game didn’t do much to encourage fans to buy tickets for a game against Ireland,” he admitted, “but this game will be different, our play will be dramatically improved – we know we can do much better.”
As for the venue, he says: I spent two wonderful years here . . . with a lot of success, I’m always delighted to come back. I hope now that the stadium will be lucky for me as it was when we played the Ivory Coast here (three years ago this month when he scored twice in a 3-1 win).
At club level the goals continue to flow with Lewandowski scoring 13 goals in 17 games for Dortmund so far this season. For Poland, though, he has struggled since the European Championships with two of his three goals during that time coming from penalties against San Marino.
Praise for Keane
He paid passing tribute to Robbie Keane last night, acknowledging the Dubliner’s remarkable ability to keep finding the next goal for his country and describing his return as “really impressive”.
Ireland would be well advised to focus on him tonight because if he turns it on O’Neill’s men may well have their hands full.