Euro 2016: Bundesliga experience preps Swiss for Lewandowski-led Poland
Experience forged in the German league will help Switzerland’s Bundesliga stars when they face Robert Lewandowski’s Poland in the last 16 at Euro 2016 on Saturday.euro 2016 Updated: Jun 25, 2016 11:45 IST
Experience forged in the German league will help Switzerland’s Bundesliga stars when they face Robert Lewandowski’s Poland in the last 16 at Euro 2016 on Saturday.
Switzerland and Poland have both qualified for the knockout phase of a European Championship finals for the first time.
But Adam Nawalka’s Poland have reason to be more optimistic with four wins in 10 meetings between the sides, while the Swiss have won just once.
With 11 of the Swiss squad having plied their trade in Germany’s top flight last season -- including Arsenal-bound Granit Xhaka -- the Swiss know what to expect at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard.
The main threat to the Swiss goal comes not just from Bayern Munich striker Lewandowski, but also Borussia Dortmund winger Jakub Blaszczykowski, who has been on loan at Fiorentina in Italy.
His goal off the bench sealed Poland’s 1-0 win over Ukraine which confirmed their place in the last 16 as Group C runners-up behind Germany.
Poland and Germany are the only two teams left at Euro 2016 who have yet to concede a goal.
“They’re definitely a difficult opponent,” said Switzerland goalkeeper Yann Sommer, who plays for Borussia Moenchengladbach.
“We all know Lewandowski from the Bundesliga.
“It would be foolish to call Poland a one-man team though. There are many other quality players in their side.”
The Swiss ‘Nati’ only managed two goals in three games in Group A, in their 1-0 win over Albania and 1-1 draw with Romania -- they also played out a goalless draw with France.
“What we’ve lacked so far is shooting from range. We have top players, but we need to focus on the killer pass and killer cross to players inside the box,” said Swiss coach Vladimir Petkovic.
“Poland have been very strong, very compact and they haven’t conceded a goal yet, but it’s up to us to make a difference.”
Lewandowski drought ‘no problem’
Lewandowski was the top scorer in Euro 2016 qualifiers with 13 goals and bagged 42 goals in all competitions for Bayern last season.
The 27-year-old has yet to open his account at the finals in France, which is not a concern for his coach Adam Nawalka.
“We don’t have a single problem with Robert not scoring a goal here,” said the Poland boss.
“He is doing a great job for our side and is an important part of the team.”
Nawalka showed a flash of irritation when asked if Cristiano Ronaldo’s two goals for Portugal in the 3-3 draw with Hungary after a poor start in the competition gave hope that Lewandowski will net against the ‘Nati’.
“Robert is feeling very happy in his role,” insisted the Poland boss.
“I don’t like comparisons to other players (such as Ronaldo) -- we don’t need them and we don’t want them.”
Since their goalless draw against France on Sunday, the Swiss have had two extra rest days to recover compared to the Poles, who beat Ukraine 1-0 on Tuesday.
“Four days rest will be enough for us,” said Lewandowski. “I feel this won’t make much of a difference.”
The Swiss have no injury concerns. Poland’s main concern is an injury to goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny with Lukasz Fabianski again set to deputise between the posts.