Lewandowski Goal Gifts Poland Tie Against Unexceptional Spain

For both Spain and Poland, this match was an opportunity at redemption. Neither had had much luck in front of goal in their first match of Euro 2020. Both faced significant criticism at home. Indeed, Spain had tested the opposition goalkeeper from seemingly every angle. Poland, however, fronted as usual by Robert Lewandowski, hardly seemed capable of the creative spark meant to help subdue their opponent Slovakia.

Dance with the one that brought you! This seems to have been the motto considered by both Luis Enrique and Paulo Sousa in setting up their team selection. The much-criticized Alvaro Morata once again started for Spain, as did youngster Pedri. Gerard Moreno, the most in-form Spanish forward of the moment, joined them in the team’s attack.

There were also few changes in terms of initial tactics. Luis Enrique opted for a 4-3-3 formation. In this setup, the wing-backs Marcos Llorente and Jordi Alba often join the attack. Meanwhile, RB Leipzig’s Dani Olmo acts nearly as a false nine. 

Elsewhere, Poland’s Paulo Sousa chose a 3-4-2-1 formation. Players look to overlap on the flanks in a bid to open up space and cross towards Robert Lewandowski, the faithful Polish goalscorer.

The first half saw an even game. Spain offered a slightly more positive display. Luis Enrique’s men once again bossed possession. Still, their midfielders rarely looked fitted to provide a decisive pass. On the other hand, Poland sat high and tried to take advantage of quick counter-attacks.

In the 25th minute, Morata repaid the trust given to him. The Juventus striker scored from a single touch that connected with the excellent low cross provided by Jordi Alba. It would not be the striker’s only clear-cut chance of the night.

The goal helped put some wind in the Furia Roja‘s sails. Poland’s brave pressing, however, occasionally paid off. The quick breaks lead to a couple of good chances for the team’s two strikers.

First, Lewandowski controlled the ball well and crossed it to Karol Swiderski. The PAOK’s striker choice of volleying the ball, instead of heading it proved to be a mistake.

In the final minutes of the first half, Swiderski’s long-range effort hit the woodwork, and Lewandowski failed to take advantage of the rebound.

In the 54th minute Robert Lewandowski finally got his first goal of the tournament. Kamil Kozwiak’s cross down the right flank falls perfectly to the feet of the Bayern forward.

Spain continued to dominate possession in the second half. However, few of the team’s youngsters ventured into trying to provide the decisive pass.

The team has gifted a penalty rather fortuitously in the 57th minute. Jakub Moder trimmed Gerard Moreno’s boot. It was deemed to have been a foul.

The striker took the responsibility of handling the spot-kick. The shot hit the woodwork, before bouncing back to Alvaro Morata who missed the target completely.

The final minutes were spent with Spain wasting away shots from inside the opposition’s penalty box. Ferran Torres had a good opportunity with a header in the 72nd minute, and Morata could not find the net on a couple of occasions.

Spain’s failure to find a second goal seemed particularly odd given the Polish keeper’s form. Szczesny’s looked shaky at times. This was best exemplified by an incident in which the ball slipped from his gloves and, nearly, towards the feet of Torres.

On a day in which Portugal and France failed to leave up to expectations, it feels unfair to judge Spain on the strength of two unremarkable performances. Still, failure to win against Slovakia, not an unlikely scenario, could spell disaster for Luis Enrique’s men.

Poland, meanwhile, has earned a draw following a brave performance. Is the team’s fighting spirit enough though? Against a highly defensive Sweden side, Lewandowski and his teammates will need to find the creativity they’ve been missing so far.



June 19, 2021 – European Championship 2020 Group E

SCORERS: 25′ Morata (S), 54′ Lewandowski (P)

SPAIN (4-3-3): Unai Simon; Marcos Llorente, Laporte, Pau Torres, Jordi Alba; Koke (68′ Sarabia), Rodri, Pedri; Morata (87′ Oyarzabal), Gerard Moreno (68′ Fabián Ruiz), Dani Olmo (61′ Ferran Torres) (De Gea, Sánchez, Azpilicueta, Diego Llorente, Thiago Alcántara,Eric García, Gayà, Traoré) Coach: Luis Enrique
POLAND (3-4-2-1): Szczesny; Bereszynski, Glik, Bednarek (85′ Dawidowicz); Jozwiak, Moder (85′ Linetty), Klich (55′ Kozłowski), Puchacz; Swiderski (68′ Frankowski), Zielinski; Lewandowski (Skorupski, Fabiański, Kędziora, Rybus, Płacheta, Kownacki, Świerczok, Helik) Coach: Paulo Sousa

REFEREE: Orsato (Italy)
NOTES: Yellow Card: Klich, Moder, Jozwiak, Lewandowski (P), Pau Torres, Rodri (S)