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International Friendly: Lewandowski Has Russia in His Sights

Poland vs Russia

Poland and Russia are set to meet at the Mieski Stadium in Wroclaw on Tuesday night for a fascinating friendly clash in the run-up to Euro 2020.

This international friendly is a chance to see the most prolific striker in European football, as Robert Lewandowski is prepared to line up for the Poles, while Russia have their own lethal weapon in Artem Dzyuba, and it promises to be a tough, but useful encounter for both teams.

At 21st and 38th in the FIFA World Rankings, both Poland and Russia are outside bets for Euro 2020, and both will be keen to arrive at the tournament in good shape.   

Talking Points

Poland search for consistency

The hosts come into this game on the back of a 2-1 loss to England, a game they looked like drawing until Harry Maguire came up with a late winner for the Three Lions.

Head coach Paulo Sousa was appointed in January and got off to a drawing start in a 3-3 result with Hungary. He followed that up with 3-0 victory over minnows Andorra before losing to England. That made it just one win in five for the Poles, who previously had been on an impressive run of two defeats in 17 games. 

The international friendly 2021 betting odds back the hosts to pick up a morale-boosting victory, and they will be expected to beat Iceland too in their final warm-up game.

As ever, Poland’s hopes rest on the shoulders of Lewandowski, who has scored 66 goals in 118 games for his country and has been in incredible for FC Bayern, scoring 41 goals this season. Despite a hiccup against Mainz, Die Bayern romped to a ninth successive Bundesliga title thanks to the Pole’s goals.

Lewandowski is likely to line up alongside along-side Arkadiusz Milik, who has 15 goals from 59 games for his country. The Napoli striker has been on loan at Marseille since January, where he has scored nine goals in 15 outings. His Azzurri team-mate Piotr Zielinski is a man to watch, a cultured midfielder with a superb passing range and willingness to get forward in support of his attack.    

It will be interesting to see who Sousa opts for as his last line of defence. West Ham’s Lukasz Fabianski has 55 caps and has enjoyed a brilliant season with the Hammers, while Juventus’ Wojciech Szczesny will hope to add to his 52 caps.  

Dzyuba carries Russian hopes

Can Artem Dzyuba lead Russia to a win against Poland in their upcoming International friendly?
Artem Dzyuba celebrates with Yuri Zhirkov after scoring Russia’s opening goal against Serbia during a UEFA Nations League match

Like their opponents, Russia come into the game on the back of a 2-1 defeat away to Slovakia. Before that they beat Slovenia 2-1 and Malta 3-1, but those wins were the only two across the team’s last nine matches.

And similar to Poland, the Russians rely heavily on their striker, Zenit Saint Petersburg’s Dzyuba, who has plundered 29 goals from 50 games for his country, the last two in the victory over Slovenia. At 6ft 6in, the 32-year-old skipper is a real handful. Fans will also remember the form of Valencia’s Denis Cheryshev at Russia 2018. He has 12 goals from 30 appearances, four of them at the World Cup finals on home soil. 

Atalanta’s 25-year-old midfielder Aleksei Miranchuk had a good domestic season, helping his team to Champions League qualification again as  Inter Milan won the Scudetto.  

Head coach Stanislav Cherchesov has a tough task to emulate his team’s success at the World Cup where they reached the quarter-finals, and this clash against Poland will be a good gauge of his chances. 

History

These two teams have met just twice before, the first being a draw in a friendly back in 2007, and the second game also ended with honours even. At Euro 2012, midfielder Alan Dzagoev gave Russia a lead, but a second-half equaliser from Jakub Blaszczykowski secured a point for the Poles. Both nations are consistent performers in Europe. The upcoming tournament will be Poland’s fourth consecutive Euros, while Russia have made it five appearances on the bounce.