More pain at the World Cup for “emotional” Lewandowski.
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Robert Lewandowski was hurt after the 2018 World Cup, and he still is.
He failed to score in 270 minutes of action in Russia as Poland finished bottom of the group with three points.
But his ‘dream’ of scoring at a World Cup has yet to come true after his penalty was saved in his 0-0 draw with Mexico on Tuesday.
Is it a curse? Some might say so.
“I told him I sympathized with him,” Poland’s chief Czeslaw Michniewicz said afterwards.
“I know how a captain feels when he misses a penalty when the game doesn’t end in victory. He was very emotional.”
“The stage was made for a player like him”
Former England defender Rio Ferdinand had told BBC One that “the stage was set for a player like him” to score at a World Cup before kick-off.
Hungry for opportunities and service, the Barcelona forward won a penalty after taking off his shirt and it looked like his golden moment.
The Mexico fans, who had vastly outnumbered the Pole and had taunted him from the first minute with boos and jeers, made the 974 stadium even more uncomfortable as he prepared to kick off .
Lewandowski, 34, has won almost everything in his club career, including the Champions League and 10 Bundesliga titles with Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund.
He’s a big player who plays in the big moments, but even he was put off by the intimidating atmosphere in Qatar as Guillermo Ochoa saved his spot-kick.
“Yesterday in training, where there were no reporters, he practiced penalties and never missed. Things like that happen, great players miss penalties,” Michniewicz said.
“Zico, Socrates, Platini, Maradona, many others, it’s football. It’s a shame, I know how much he wanted to score in a World Cup and I hope that the next opportunities will lead to a goal.”
As the majority of the stadium erupted in jubilant celebration, Lewandowski stood in the box with his head in his hands, with a group of Polish fans to his right reacting in kind.
“I didn’t get a chance and that still hurts,” Lewandowski said earlier this week as he reflected on 2018.
“That was a failure. To score in a World Cup is a big dream and I will do everything possible to make that dream possible.”
Will he get another chance?
The Barcelona striker has scored 76 goals in 137 games for Poland. He has scored 636 goals in total for club and country.
He contributed 13 goals in 2022 World Cup qualifying, including nine goals and four assists, twice as many as any of his teammates.
But Poland don’t have a good record at World Cups, and chances for their star striker may be few and far between.
Poland’s last goal from open play at the tournament was 20 years ago, and Lewandowski didn’t look to change that statistic on Tuesday.
Against Mexico, Lewandowski touched the ball just three times in the box and had a shot on goal – his penalty saved. Of his 42 touches, only 12 were in the final third.
“It must be frustrating for Lewandowski. That doesn’t happen to him at club level,” Ferdinand said.
“He’s used to getting more touches on the ball. He’s been starved of the ball and has to feed off the scraps.”
Former Arsenal defender Martin Keown on BBC One added: “I’m sure if Lewandowski gets another chance he’ll take it. I’m not sure he’ll get another chance.”
With Lionel Messi’s Argentina yet to make it into Group C and a Saudi Arabian side that stunned the South Americans with a 2-1 win earlier TuesdayLewandowski could be made to work for his dream of scoring in a World Cup.
He looked a despondent figure as he walked down the tunnel after quickly applauding the fans following the goalless draw with Mexico.
“I will not tell him what he can and cannot do. As a team and as a squad we will help him, and he will help us a lot in this tournament,” added Michniewicz.
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