Home side to target any complacency, says Poland captain Lewandowski
World Cup winners Germany face group rivals not shy of motivation for crunch game
Germany coach Joachim Loew: has key players missing through injury for Poland game in Warsaw. Photograph: Czarek Sokolowski/AP
A sense of anticipation was palpable in the Polish capital yesterday as management and players alike pondered the prospect of upsetting World Champions Germany.
Narodowy Stadium, similar to Dublin’s Lansdowne Road, was built in the early part of the decade with greatness in mind, yet a couple of draws at the Euro 2012 finals they co-hosted, and another when England visited for a World Cup qualifiers shortly afterwards, amount to the highlights so far.
And it is so with that deficit in mind that various members of the squad, principally talisman and captain Robert Lewandowski of Bayern Munich, have spoken with vigour about punishing any complacency that may have crept into the German psyche since Rio.
Bastian Schweinsteiger, Sami Khedira, Marco Reus and Mesut Özil
are unavailable tonight due to injury. Factor in the ease with which an injury-hit Scotland side rattled Joachim Loew’s side in Dortmund four weeks ago, despite narrowly losing 2-1, and the invincibility tag soon recedes.
“The bus won’t be parked in our penalty area against Germany,” said Lewandowski. “This match with the Germans can . . . break the doubt and apathy in us from the fans.”
Such dubiousness from the Polish public has been apparent since a disappointing World Cup qualifying campaign.
Manager Nawalka’s tinkering with the squad – he’s capped 70 players in just over a year – serves only to increase the suspicion that he’s unsuitable to fuse a group of undoubted quality.
Not even the 7-0 thumping of Gibraltar in the qualification opener could appease fans, especially in the Polish capital where bemusement remains over his decision to include just three members of the Legia Warsaw squad so impressive in this season’s Europa League.
Whatever about the external influences, unity of purpose was the message from camp in the build-up to the biggest game so far in Group D that also includes Scotland and Germany’s opponents on Tuesday, the Republic of Ireland.
Lukasz Piszczek, one of five Polish squad members playing in the Bundesliga said: “The scale of the challenge is huge but so too is the motivation. We are not frightened.”
One German player who would be happy to see Ireland and Scotland lose out to Poland is Lukas Podolski.“An ideal scenario would be Germany and Poland going to Euro 2016 together from the group.”